Not Just for the Colonel
by Connie Berry
I’ve been thinking a lot about mustard lately. It’s one of my favorite things. It’s so versatile and yet so enigmatic. There’s yellow, there’s honey, there’s spicy brown, there’s coarse grain, there’s Dijon, there’s horseradish. I could go on.
Then there are all of its uses: sandwiches, pretzels, deviled eggs, salad dressings, marinades, sauces, glazes, potato salads… Besides all these fine attributes, did you know mustard is practically indestructible? And if you add a little water to dry mustard, voilà, you’ve got yourself a condiment.
It’s magical. If I were marooned on a desert island, I’d want a collection of Joyce Carol Oates books, a keg of good beer, and one fine, fine mustard.
Oh, it’s not just the taste. Mustard has played a significant role in my life. I once drove from Maryland to Mississippi with my nephew Chad, and we discussed mustard the entire trip. I really feel we cemented our relationship during that journey. My sister once sent me a variety pack of mustard for Christmas—hint, hint.
Then there was the time my dad urged me to use restraint with my spending habits. “You’ve got to stop buying all that expensive mustard. You’re living too high on the hog. How many jars of mustard do you have in your refrigerator?”
My mom was always okay with my infatuation with mustard. In fact, she even showed my youngest son how to make a mustard bread sandwich when he was about six years old, something he continues to enjoy today. I’m pretty sure she considered it Depression-era fare–just like the big pots of spaghetti and neck bones we used to have for supper.
I’d much rather have mustard on a Hofmann snappy griller than anything else. Ketchup is too sweet. Mayonnaise is too white. Pickle relish is plain gross and onions are self-explanatory. And, I find that when I do choose a different accompaniment for my meat sandwiches, they taste best when I mix a little mustard in them.
Of course, as you can probably imagine, I’ve been known to go a little overboard when I ladle the mustard on everything. “Do you want a little hot dog with your mustard?” comes to mind.
I can’t help but love mustard. It’s practical, yet it can be fanciful too. I’ve met few things, or people for that matter, as useful as mustard. It’s never let me down, and thanks to my conscientiousness at the grocery store, it’s always there for me. You don’t find that in Miracle Whip.
Besides, if I followed my father’s advice and only bought inexpensive mustard, I’d still be doing okay. Have you ever tasted cheap mayonnaise? It’s disgusting. Cheap ketchup? Too watery. Mustard’s just fine even when it’s the plain yellow variety.
I’ll just stick with mustard and continue my love affair until someone introduces me to something better. Which. Will. Never. Happen.