I am a meat eater.
My apologies to my vegetarian readers, but I can’t help it: I like meat.
Meat is good on its own, but it also benefits greatly from the right condiment. There are many condiments to choose from, but in my opinion the king of the meat eater’s condiments is English mustard.
However, lately an imposter has arrived on the scene to sully the reputation of this fine condiment. This imposter just doesn’t cut the mustard and it must be stopped!
I am aware that other condiments are available for the meat eater and they all have their place. There is no substitute for brown sauce when you are talking about the apparently more carcinogenic end of the meat spectrum such as bacon or sausage. For your Sunday roast you have horseradish to perfectly complement your beef, and lamb cannot be fully appreciated without mint sauce. But for sheer versatility you cannot beat good English mustard.
English mustard is one of the hottest mustards in the world, and when I speak of English mustard what I have in mind is Colman’s English Mustard. They have been making it since 1814 and clearly know their stuff.
English mustard is a glorious thick, yellow goo with a hot, pungent flavour that clears the sinuses and, used too extravagantly, makes the eyes water.
It compliments a steak superbly; it turns a pork pie into a culinary masterpiece and transforms even the humble ham sandwich into taste sensation.
But lately when you ask for English mustard in pubs and cafes it has become common to be presented not with a sturdy pot of Colmans, nor with the posher ramekin of the glorious yellow substance lovingly prepared by the chef from the raw mustard powder, but to be given a small yellow sachet of Heinz English Mustard.
This is not English mustard.
This is English mustard in the same way that Budweiser is English beer. It appears to have been created by someone who has heard tales of the original and tried to recreate it having never seen or tasted it for themselves. In the same way that English medieval scribes drew pictures of fantastical creatures from descriptions of elephants and rhinoceros, Americans produced Budweiser and their version of English mustard.
Now don’t get me wrong, I understand that there are people out there who like this bland, fruity interpretation of mustard. Eaten with a bland frankfurter encased in a bland white roll and garnished with bland boiled onions it is fine, but you don’t want to accidentally sully your steak, pork pie or ham sandwich with it in the mistaken belief that it is real English mustard.
This type of mustard is more normally presented as “yellow mustard” or even “American yellow mustard” and it normally comes in a recognisable type of squirty plastic container, and that is perfectly acceptable: you know what you are getting.
Calling it English mustard is not acceptable, it is downright misleading.
I feel the need to start a petition to preserve the title of English mustard before this inferior imposter becomes accepted as the norm.