The Best Mustard does not come from France

The Best Mustard does not come from France

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    The surest way to annoy a waiter in a French restaurant is to purposely mispronounce the name of whatever wine you order (this is a favorite pastime of mine; it drives them nuts when I ask for a bottle of Beaujolais by saying, in a thick but fake southern drawl, “Bring me a bottle of that boo-jay-liss”). The next best way—and one that is likely to get you thrown out of the restaurant, but that’s half the fun—is to bring your own jar of American-made mustard and slather it over everything on your plate.

    I’m no prude when it comes to the yellow stuff.  When I’m having a hot dog, I’ll take the French’s every time (this mustard especially upsets French waiters because, despite the name, it’s made in Parsippany, New Jersey and probably outsells all actual French mustard brands combined), preferably poured onto the bun and dog as thickly as foundation layers dispense cement and smothered in raw white onions. My advice is to keep at least five feet away from me while I’m enjoying a Dodger Dog, and at least twenty feet from me an hour or two later.

    Of course, different kinds of food require different kinds of mustard. I am even known to use actual French mustard on rare occasions, like when I make my simple beef stroganoff recipe, because the recipe calls for Dijon mustard and nothing else comes close. I’ve enjoyed Gulden’s and Hellman’s mustards on many items, especially on Polish sausages. However, for me, one mustard tops them all.

    Although I’ve spent my entire life—other than vacation times—in California, Milwaukee, my father’s hometown, is in my genes. I have visited the often-ridiculed city many times (and what’s up with that? I always enjoyed spending time in Milwaukee: great sausages, good beer, great fishing and boating…  What do people have against cheese, anyway?), usually during cross-country road trips with my family that, despite the best intentions of my parents, always turned out disastrous, usually in hilarious ways, at least in retrospect. We always made an arrangement with my uncle when we drove halfway across the country: we would provide him with four cases of Coors beer (which, at that time, was unavailable east of the Mississippi River) if he would present us with four cases of Plochman’s mustard.



    As every Midwesterner knows, no kielbasa or bratwurst is complete without the Plochman’s.

    Originally the Premium Mustard Mills in Chicago (founded in 1852), a German chemist named Plochman who knew his mustard bought the company in 1883 and it’s been a family-run business ever since. Now located in Manteno, Illinois, Plochman’s continues to produce what is, in my opinion, the best mustard in the world.

    What do you hate about French (not French’s, but the stuff from France) mustard? I know what it is: it’s the little tiny bits and chunks. Mustard should not be chewy, and Plochman’s is always smooth, creamy and delicious.

    The Mississippi River food and drink barrier broke down long ago; now folks all over the Midwest and even the East Coast can buy Coors beer at any liquor store, and we folks out here in the West finally have access to Plochman’s mustard… if we can find it.

    Granted, a good bratwurst is hard to find in Los Angeles, and so is Plochman’s mustard—but at least I can order the good yellow stuff online if I can’t find a store carrying it.

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