Flustered by Mustard

True confession. I do NOT like mustard. I have had a long battle with this condiment and I decided that I need to investigate why I dislike mustard so much. I’m just a tad flustered by mustard.

I can remember my brother wanting to play the “refrigerator game”. This game was easy to play. You simply sat down and were blindfolded. Then someone went to the refrigerator and got out a “taste” of what was in the frig and the other person got to “taste and guess”. The food item could be a condiment or leftovers. It really was fun to play when you were the person fetching items to taste from the frig, not the person having to “taste and guess”.

I’ll take unknown substances for $100 please

On one particular round of me being the “taster”, I knew something was afoot when my mom started to whisper to my brother Jason. I heard the silverware drawer open, then I the frig door open. I sat peacefully blindfolded but curious as to what “taste” they were going to bring me.

As I continued to listen I heard a cap being unscrewed and then the clinking of silverware against the glass. Hmm… interesting, what could they be getting? Snickering followed and then I heard them walk up. My mom told me to open wide and before I knew it they placed a big glob of MUSTARD in my mouth. AH!

Pause the story for a moment … If I could have been two animals in one, right at the moment, I would have been a llama for its ability to spit large gobs of saliva at long-distance and a donkey for the ability to kick in any direction. Unpause.

Coming unglued

I came up off the kitchen chair yelling and spitting. Phfft, phfft… yuck! YUCK! That’s when my mom started to tell me to stop spitting. My brother Jason (remember my story about scaring the daylights out of him https://www.mandyandmichele.com/the-joy-of-scaring-my-brother/?) snickering with pleasure somewhere in the room.

I finally removed my blindfold and ran to the kitchen sink to finish thoroughly cleaning my mouth of mustard. Let’s just say we NEVER played the refrigerator game again. And I got to mop the kitchen floor as a “prize” for my, ahem… participation.

The damage has been done

Now you all can understand where the deep physiologically based aversion to mustard arrived. Since I am almost 50 years old, I thought I better find out what mustard really is, where it comes from, and how it’s made. And as Aretha Franklin says “R E S P E C T “, “just a little bit” to the mustard plant.

What is mustard?

Image by Enotovyj from Pixabay

You will be totally surprised to know, mustard is a cruciferous vegetable. The seeds from the mustard flower are harvested and then the seeds are dried and crushed to make a powder.

Alone, mustard seeds have NO heat. They have to be crushed and mixed with a liquid in order to bring out the heat. This “heat” is caused by a chemical reaction between the enzyme myrosinase and the mustard oil glycosides. Together the enzyme myrosinase and the mustard oil glucoside produce sugar and many chemical irritants. Plant warfare I guess!

Where does the mustard plant originate?

Image by MichaelGaida from Pixabay

Mustard has claims to being one of the first spices recorded in history by Sanskrit manuscripts around 3000 BC. What, pray tell is Sanskrit? Well, the best way to describe Sanskrit is to tell you to think “India” and “Iran” along with Hindu, Buddist… this gives you the area and culture from which it came. Basically it’s a very old language and my eyes are rolling to the back of my head as Britannica explains to me the beauty of this language. Let’s move on…

Mustard flowers were wild and then domesticated for use by the Chinese, India, and Egyptians. However, the Romans get total “street cred” for the use of mustard as a condiment. The Romans discovered if you mixed the cracked mustard seeds with wine you get a lovely paste. I guess when you conquer most of the world, obviously your power, wisdom, and knowledge are far-reaching in all areas. To the victor go the spoils.

There are many types (40) of mustard plants. The following are the most commonly used:

  • white or yellow- Mediterranean
  • black- Mideast
  • brown- Himalayas

As exciting as this is friends, I have to leave off right here, so till next week when Flustered by Mustard Part 2 arrives, here is to good food, good friends, and free and spicy-good life!


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