Mustard is one of the world’s most ancient spices and oldest known condiments.
The name, mustard, comes from the Latin words “mustum ardens”, which means “burning wine” and refers to the flavor created by the spicy heat of the crushed mustard seeds mixed with the juice of unfermented wine grapes.
It is believed that mustard was first cultivated in India around 3000 BC, and later taken to Britain by the Romans who used it as a condiment and pickling spice.
Mustard was known for its medicinal purposes before its culinary uses. It was first mentioned as a curative in the Greek’s Hippocratic writings. In the form of mustard paste it was used for general muscular relief and to help “cure” toothaches. It also became known to stimulate appetite and digestion, help clear sinuses, and increase blood circulation. Mustard flour can even be sprinkled in your socks to help prevent frostbite.
Mustard was so enjoyed by the Romans that when they moved into Gaul (present day France) they took the mustard seed with them and planted it in the region of Burgundy.
The French mastered the making of mustard, and by the ninth century French monasteries were bringing in considerable income from mustard preparations.
Pope John Paul XXII loved mustard so much that in the early 1300’s he created a new Vatican position of mustard-maker to the pope - grand moutardier du pape.
The saying, “Can’t cut the mustard,” means that one can’t live up to a challenge.
In Denmark and India it is thought that one can ward off evil spirits by spreading mustard seed around the exterior of the home.
Americans use more mustard than any other country in the world.
National Mustard Day is celebrated on the first Saturday of each August at The Mount Horeb Mustard Museum in Wisconsin.
Mustard’s scientific name is Brassica Nigra (Black Mustard) and Brassica Alba (White Mustard), and it is made from the seeds of the plant in the Cruciferae family.