Mustard has played an important role for at least 3,000 years. The Christian Bible discusses mustard as a remedy for muscle aches and chest congestion. Even Shakespeare wrote about mustard’s value in several of his plays. It was not until 1856, however, that wine was added to mustard by a man in Dijon, France….and the rest is history.
Prior to 1856 mustard was mixed with vinegar. The new version with wine, on the other hand, made the condiment smoother and more palatable. A local inventor by the name of Grey came up with a machine that automated the processing of mustard seeds. Armed with the recipe used to make the wine rendition, he and his friend (Antoine Poupon) opened the Grey-Poupon mustard store in Dijon where they sold their wine infused version in earthenware pots.
Dijon mustard, in contrast to many food items in France (e.g. Roquefort cheese) is not covered under French laws that address origin of the product. As a result, mustard produced in any part of France (or the European Union) may be called Dijon.
Cooks Illustrated (one of my favorite foodie magazines) conducted a few years ago a test on the best tasting Dijons. The panel of 22 experts acknowledged that they preferred the “spicier” mustards. They tasted 8 major brands. The winner? You will be surprised…Grey Poupon! The runner-up? Maille.
On this September’s tour to France, we’ll visit the area where the wine-infused version was invented. There will be opportunities to see Dijon being made, to taste and to buy.