January 24, 2013Mustard was known as a flavoring by the ancient Egyptians. The Greeks spiced stews and meats from these small round seeds from shrubs of the Brassica family. Pythagoras advocated its use to treat scorpion inflicted wounds and Hippocrates was equally impressed with its healing properties. It was even claimed by Pliny to give energy to listless wives.
The Romans began grinding the seeds and blending it with wine into the paste that would be much like the modern condiment.
There are several theories about the origin of the name. One is that it derives from the coat of arms (Moult me tarde, which comes from "I desire ardentity") given to the city of Dijon by Philip the Bold in the 14th century. Others relate the name to the tradition of blending seeds with the 'must' created in wine production.
Mustard seeds come in three types: brown, black and white. The oils within the seeds react with water to give mustard its signature heat, a pleasant property that rises into the nasal cavity before fading, like wasabi does.
In fact, most of what is called wasabi is actually mustard seeds, horseradish and food coloring, due to the high cost of true wasabi. In 170, Mrs. Clements of Durham, England marketed the powered seed, an enterprise that made her a fortune. Today, Canada grows more mustard seed than any other nation.
DISHES: Mustard seed potato salad. Mustard seed with roasted duck and potatoes, pickled spices with mustard seed and mustard seed sautéed greens.
PAIRINGS: Pour a green white such as Albarino or a Sauvignon Blanc with a mustard seed vinaigrette. When serving a meat flavored with mustard seed, pour a nice Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah.