The first day that I arrived for study abroad in Paris, I went to the grocery store. Despite being jet-lagged and a little disgruntled due to the 95 degree heat, being inside the grocery store immediately calmed me down as I made my way to the aisle that I know will always bring me inner peace.

To those who don't have an unhealthy obsession with condiments, you will probably never understand why my fridge door is filled with five types of mustard, two types of barbecue sauce, three types of chili paste, and two kinds of mayonnaise.

But for those of you who do understand me, you realize that condiments are not only an important part of eating, they may be THE most important part of eating, and no matter what you make, you'll find a way to incorporate them into your day

And without a doubt, mustard is the best condiment, and dijon mustard is the best mustard. Let me elaborate.

A History of Happiness

Way back in the 14th century, the French town of Dijon embarked on its journey to mustard-making prowess. By the 1600s, unions had been formed to regulate the role of the "moutardier" (French guy who makes mustard).

There are two main types of mustard in France, moutarde à l'ancienne, and moutarde de Dijon. Until the 1700s, all of the mustard was "à l'ancienne," with a mild taste and grainy texture, until some absolute brilliant thinkers came up with the concept of Dijon mustard. 

beer, wine, liquor, alcohol
Ally Malecha

Dijon mustard is made with black or brown mustard seeds, white wine/wine vinegar/verjus (unripe grape juice), and salt, and ground thin so that it is a smooth texture. Any flavors added to it beyond this will likely disqualify it from being true Dijon mustard, but why would you mess with a good thing?

However, Dijon mustard is not like other French regional specialties (looking at you, Champagne) in that it doesn't have to be produced in the region to be considered legit. In fact, most of the world's mustard seeds are now grown in Canada and Nepal.

That isn't to say that French Dijon mustard is still a little different from Dijon purchased elsewhere. For starters, Grey Poupon as we know it in the United States is owned by Kraft and actually has no relation to the original moutardiers of Burgundy.

beer, coffee
Ally Malecha

It was purchased from the Dijon-based company in 1946 and adapted for American markets, with the famous Grey Poupon ad campaign that followed in the 1980s, allowing it to gain traction in the United States. 

But Dijon IS far better in France....

In my personal opinion, the Dijon mustard we eat in the USA is far less tangy and flavorful than the mustard that they serve in France, where it comes in small glass jars, making it far cuter and more spoonable than in the US.

I don't think I could ever imagine a world without mustard, and everyday I am thankful for the invention of this beautiful condiment that goes well with quite literally everything. In short, #vivelafrance #vivelamoutarde.