Passing Mustard

By Don Doman

Normally, I wouldnít sit around eating sausages on a Thursday afternoon, but for science I made the sacrifice. Actually, sausages were a by-product, so to speak, of my experiment. I was conducting a taste test of foo-foo mustards. I hand dipped sausage links into five gourmet mustards to see which came out on top.

I chose five mustards: Safeway Select Honey Spice, Maille Honey Dijon, inglehoffer Sweet Hot Mustard, Maitre Jacques Sweet Tarragon Mustard, and Grey Poupon. The results were interesting.

I rated the mustard with four criteria: texture, nose, flavor, and porkacity (how well it enhanced the flavor of the sausages). The nose test was first. I passed each jar under my nose. I sniffed. I inhaled. Then, I sniffed, again. My sinuses were clear for several days after the comparisons. The Safeway Select put me in mind of a warm, spring wind blowing through the Rose Garden of Point Defiance Park. The Maitre Jacques transported me to an over-cast day in downtown Everett. The Grey Poupon simply smelled like fresh pickle relish. The inglehoffer barely registered any aroma while the Maille rated a zero on the nose-ometer.

The texture test came next. A teaspoon of each mustard was ladled into my mouth. After each bite I expectorated into a Kentucky Fried bucket and cleansed my pallet with a sip of Diet Rite Cola. The Safeway Select, inglehoffer and Grey Poupon were all smooth. The Maille was smooth but thick, and a little gluey. The Maitre Jacques was grainy.

The mustards were all flavorful. The Safeway Select was poutie; the Maille, inviting; the inglehoffer ďSlap me on the behind and call me WolfgangĒ aggressive; the Maitre Jacques offensive; the Grey Poupon was tasteful with a bite. My choice for best mustard if I was going to sit and eat a whole jar was the Safeway Select. Man does not live by mustard alone, however. There was one more criteria to judge.

The big test was porkacity. This is a personal call, but to me a mustard must not only compliment, but it must also improve and enhance pork. I was prepared to eat and judge until a decision was made. To start off, each mustard rated a full link (two bites). The Maitre Jacques didnít make the refrigerator cut. It wasnít good enough to save. It went directly to the garbage. The Grey Poupon went to the reefer. Itíll be used on hamburgers and meatloaf. The other three foo-foos came in for closer scrutiny.

Fresh sausages were dipped, licked and chomped. The inglehoffer went down to defeat. It was good, but it was a little too hot for eating large quantities of sausage. Next, the Safeway Select was eliminated. I was down to the Maille, but I wanted to make sure, so I continued eating sausage links and Honey Dijon till the sausages were all gone -- just to confirm my findings. As the overwhelming winner in the area of porkacity, the Maille Honey Dijon was the victor.

After selecting my top foo-foo mustard choice, I checked the containers. Both the Maitre Jacques and Maille were imports from France. The Grey Poupon, with its high-falutiní French-sounding name isnít an import at all. Itís from New Jersey! The inglehoffer is from Beaverton, Oregon. Safeway Select just says a ďProduct of USA.Ē

The number one ingredient in all but the Safeway Select was water. The Select used more vinegar. The inglehoffer didnít hit vinegar until six on the list as did the Maille. All used lots of salt. The four losers came in at five calories each for a teaspoon. The winner came in at fifteen calories. The Safeway Select Honey Spice used only honey for sweetening. The Maille listed sugar as its second ingredient and honey was fourth. Evidently, I like my pork sweet and spicy.

The Maille was the most expensive at just under four dollars. The Safeway Select was about a dollar cheaper. The Maitre Jacques was the least expensive, but donít bother with it. You can do better.

I think my next taste test will be steak sauces. Iíll be investigating the subtle differences they bring to beef. This is, of course, all in the name of science and our Weekly readers.

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