Tuesday, May 12, 2009

In Defense of Dijon

By now we have all heard about the scandel in the US of A right now. I'm not talking about a sex scandal ala Bill Clinton, or even the scandel of involving the United States in the invasion of a sovereign nation, rather this is the "Scandel of the Condiments"

It appears that at a local burger joint, the President ordered a cheeseburger and asked for, well you watch and listen:

It appears he asked for dijon mustard, which is now being considered a sign that the President, far from being a man of the people is an elitist socialist, who wants to turn the United States into, a dijon loving, state subsidized medicine, Hugo Chavez loving commie state.

The right immediately capitalized on this slip and proclaimed loud and long, Sean Hannity, the obvious darling of the extreme right wasted valuable time denouncing the President for his choice. This was later picked up by Rush Limbaugh even got in on the act. Mark Steryn had to comment on it:

It seems all this thoughts of elitism directed against the mustard has to do with a series of commercials that were run quite a few years ago:

By the way, the man with the Grey Poupon is the late British Actor Paul Eddington. He is best remembered for his role as Jim Hacker, the MP and cabinet minister who became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, at least according to the television series; Yes Minister and "Yes Prime Minister".

With that as the background, let's put things in perspective. Is this the worst thing that's happening to the US at this time? The Canadian Press said it the best when it mentions the two worlds and economic melt down facing the US. The Chicago Tribune got into the act of attacking the right for their attack on the President's preference of condiments.

Still what about dijon? What is there about this mustard that makes it such a great target. Certainly it is mustard, with a different flavour and a suspiciously french sounding name that perhaps speaks of its origins. Hmmm, if the President likes dijon now, does that mean in the future he will be bowing down to the President of France, M. Nicolas Sarcozy? That becomes the question, of course if he wants to hear what President Sarkozy says, he will have to bow down, the man is quite short in comparison. Still, what's this about dijon.

The site, WiseGeek gives the answer:
Dijon mustard is a refined version of that first condiment and has its origins, obviously enough, in Dijon, France. A man named Jean Naigeon created his version of mustard in Dijon in 1856. Throughout the ages, most people made mustard from mustard seeds and vinegar. Naigeon used “verjuice” instead of vinegar. Verjuice is a sour liquid made from unripe grapes. This use of verjuice in place of vinegar made Naigeon’s Dijon mustard smoother and more palatable. The name “Dijon,” in fact, refers only to the recipe, rather than the city (unlike champagne, for instance).

Inventor Maurice Grey came up with a machine that automated processing mustard seeds and he and Antoine Poupon, armed with Naigeon’s recipe, opened the Grey Poupon mustard store in Dijon. They made the mustard on-site and sold earthenware mustard pots as well.

The Dijon mustard recipe means the mustard must be produced only with brown or black mustard seeds, or a combination of the two, and verjuice, wine or vinegar. No artificial colors, fillers or other additives may be used in Dijon mustard, making the recipe very popular these days.

It's mustard with a different base and some extra flavours. But someone will notice, it was first concocted in France, true but so what. The thing about dijon is that it is delicious. I must admit it is my preferred mustard to put on my sandwich, for example. It has a tangy flavour which adds to the sandwich. I still like regular mustard, but for my sandwich, it is dijon. I have also tried honey mustard but I think the flavour is too overpowering and sweet for the average sandwich.

As for the condiment of an elitist, well this could be a damaging accusation if it wasn't for one thing, you can buy it at a Dollar Store. This is not a slur against dollar stores, but I think anything you can buy at one hardly makes it elitist. If you can plunk a dollar down and get a jar of it, it's more the condiment of the common people.

Barry Levenson, the curator of the Mt. Horeb Mustard Museum declared:
The mustard sniping has Wisconsin's Barry Levenson seeking equal air time. The founder and curator of the Mount Horeb Mustard Museum, which touts the world's largest mustard collection, said Dijon mustard is "a sign of good upbringing," not of pretention.

Sure, the Grey Poupon ads of the 1980s showed a British gentleman in a Bentley snootily asking another Brit in a big car for some Grey Poupon. But Levenson points out an Imperial margarine ad similarly featured a crown magically appearing on a woman's head when she chose Imperial spread.

Margarine isn't pretentious, Levenson said, and mustard "makes you feel grand for a very low price." Added Levenson: "Condimentally correct people don't do ketchup."

So I suppose conclude, let the President enjoy his dijon, let the right fume and spout their outrage and secretly the Democrats chortle.

However I want to conclude with one of the best scenes from Yes Minister that show some of the humour of Paul Eddington

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