Jim Sikes: Mustard: A popular condiment worldwide | Food-and-cooking

Jim Sikes: Mustard: A popular condiment worldwide | Food-and-cooking

Have you ever thought about the most popular condiment in a typical American household? Probably not. Stop a minute. What do you put on a burger, hot dog or sandwich? What do you dip fries in? Do you have an emergency bottle of hot sauce in your car?

If you think about it, you may miss number one. According to many sources, it’s mayonnaise. Followed by mustard then ketchup.

No matter how you rank them personally, things like mayo, mustard, ketchup, soy, sriracha, hot sauce, salsa, relish and barbecue sauce will likely be in most Americans’ top 10. Yet one of these will be strongly disliked by many of us. You know that awful thing that many people stand by – “If I don’t like it, how can it be good?”

In various other countries, the order is different. Other things we don’t regularly use appear. How about miso, guacamole, fish sauce, horseradish, steak sauce, gochujang, ponzu or wasabi? Don’t forget ranch!

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Fact is, so will mustard and a tomato product like ketchup. Plus mayo or something related to it, like aioli or tartar. One or more of these will be in most people’s top five condiments.

Looks like something spicy or even hot is held in high regard on most lists. Here in the South, we like a pop of flavor and heat in lots of our food. A home without pepper sauce just isn’t heard of.

Seems as though mustard of some sort finds its way near the top of most every list of favorite condiments.

For those who have spent much time in France, you will remember a jar or pot of mustard being on so many tables. It may be there before salt or pepper even. It’s that important.

French mustard, known as Dijon, is hotter than American ballpark or yellow mustard. Dijon is made from brown or black seeds. American mustard uses yellow seeds. Add turmeric and we get that bright color. Vinegar gives us a tart and medium flavor.

There are other styles of mustard. Names like Dusseldorf, Norwich, Beer, Chinese, Irish (with whisky of course), English powder and others. We find some are really hot. Others have a distinct sweetness. Many styles and taste patterns. Variety based on ingredients and style of production.

Here’s the big news – France is experiencing a mustard shortage. Some market mustard shelves look like milk and bread during a southern hurricane alert. Toilet paper in the pandemic. It’s that bad.

Why is there a mustard shortage? What’s going on in France?

Just like Tabasco sauce here in the South, the peppers aren’t grown here. Most of the mustard seeds used in making Dijon mustard aren’t grown in France. Eighty percent or more of brown mustard seeds are grown in Canada. The Ukraine produced lots of mustard seed. Burgundy in France is still where Dijon is made.

We know what’s been going on in the Ukraine. Little or nothing is coming out of there. There’s been a devastating drought in Canada. Mustard seed production has been slashed. Virtually none of these are the yellow seeds used in American mustard production. Our burgers and dogs are safe!

Parisians are scurrying for Dijon. Stores are being accused of hoarding mustard and waiting on higher prices before selling. I saw a jar of Dijon priced at $10 this weekend. Mustard wars may be in the making!

Yikes. Who would have thought of such a crisis? Looks like mustard is mighty popular everywhere.

Be safe. Get an extra jar of your favorite Dijon just in case. Don’t wait and be disappointed.

Jim Sikes is an Opelika resident; a food, wine and restaurant consultant; and a columnist for the Opelika-Auburn News. Contact him on Facebook at In the Kitchen with Chef Jim.

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