Thursday, June 7, 2007

Grey Poupon, of Course!

I was walking around the basin the other day, surveying my domain, and stopped at the lock (ecluse) where barges enter the Canal du Bourgogne from the Saone River.

A large commercial peniche was entering the lock and two more were waiting to get through and head north on the canal. As there is rarely any commercial traffic through here, I asked what was the occasion. The lock keeper (eclusier - see how easy this French is) said the barges were heading for Dijon carrying mustard seed from Canada.

I guess there is nothing sacred in this world anymore. France importing mustard seed to produce the famous Dijon mustards while the seeds are Canadian grown seems a bit, shall we say, hypocritical. French grape vines imported from America, french fries that aren't even French, and now mustard made in France but with foreign seed. What is a person to believe? The Canadians now have a feather to add to their bonnet besides the RIM BlackBerry.

It seems that the reason Dijon mustard became so famous was not because of the mustard seed grown locally (although the local soil did produce good mustard seed), but the availability of grape juice from the vineyards of Burgundy. Dijon mustard gets its smooth taste because the ground seeds are mixed with grape juice, wine and wine vinegar! Mr. Grey, of the Poupon Grey's, invented a way to process the seeds and was instrumental in putting Dijon on the mustard map of the world. But, Dijon-style mustard can be made anywhere, by anyone, with a handful of mustard seed and some grape squeezings.

So, the next time you are tooling down the freeway and a Rolls Royce pulls up next to you with a guy offering you a jar of Grey Poupon, smile knowingly and pull out your jar of French's mustard, because it's made in -- you guessed it -- Rochester, NY by a British owned company!