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History of Mustard as Food

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"Why are you so mad to find out about the history of Mustard as food??"screamed my friend and then, I reminded him of a quote “Energy, like the biblical grain of the mustard-seed, will remove mountains.” We may neglect mustard as an easily available tiny seed, but it also has an interesting story to tell. Here's my account on how a mustard history will amuse you. 

Mustard is an indispensible condiment used in the preparation of several Indian, African and American food items. This seed belongs to the botanical family of Brassica and bears tiny round edible seeds and stem, as well as tasty leaves. The word Mustard is derived from the Latin name “Mustum Arden” meaning "burning must."

In the beginning eras, mustard was used solely for medicinal purposes. In the sixth century B.C, Pythagoras propagated it as an effective remedy for Scorpion Stings and a century later, Hippocrates used it as medicine. Now, it is widely believed that Romans were the first to experiment with Mustard as the condiment. They mixed it with unfermented grape juice known as “must”. A reference of food recipe appears in Apicius, which is a collection of Roman Cookery Recipes believed to have been compiled in the late 4th or early 5th century AD.

The mustard seed also finds significant reference in the Christian Holy texts, where it’s mentioned as a small and an insignificant plant which when planted, grows into a powerful plant. It is also believed that Pope John XXII was very fond of the condiment and he decided to create a new position in the Vatican called “grand moutardier du pape (mustard-maker to the pope)”. The monks of Paris absorbed the techniques of Mustard making from Romans and Dijon became the recognized center of Mustard making and is known today as the Mustard Capital of the world.

The Brits were perhaps the first to use Mustard in the preparation of mustard balls, for which mustard is coarsely grinded and combined with flour and cinnamon and later, moistened and rolled into balls. These balls are dried and stored for the preparation of Mustard paste whenever the need arises. The town of Tewkesbury became famous for its high quality mustard balls. Also, there is a passing reference of Tewkesbury special mustard balls in William Shakespeare’s popular play "King Henry the Fourth," Part II.

In 1904, for the first time, Mustard was introduced as the chief hot dog condiment, during the St. Louis World Fair.

Mustard Greens were cultivated in Japan and China since the ancient times because they are an indispensible part of several ethnical Chinese and Japanese fries and soups. 


Image Courtesy: foragersyear


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History Of Mustard As Food