by Michele Anna Jordan
Photograph by John Wagner
What do we look for when tasting mustard? Although taste is largely subjective, there are certain objective criteria to consider when evaluating the condiment. The mustard should be entirely pleasant. It should be somewhat acidic, but not overly so, and it should not be too salty. Its flavors should be well-balanced, with no single element dominating.
If it is sweet, sugar should not be the predominant taste, merely an element of the whole. The texture should be smooth or, in the case of coarse-grain mustard, pleasantly grainy, not gritty or hard. It should have a fairly thick consistency, so that it easily holds its own shape on a spoon, but it should not be so thick as to be cloying or tongue-coating.
Mustard should not taste floury, musty, or metallic, nor should it taste or smell eggy. Even if it is hot, it should not burn the tongue. Mustard always should have a pleasant aftertaste, a harmonious finish on the palate as the flavors fade together.
If it vaporizes so that your eyes water and forehead sweats but you are eager for more, consider yourself lucky and be sure to write down the name of that mustard.
Copyright 1996 by Michele Anna Jordan, author of The Good Cook's Book of Mustard. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.
Check out Michele Anna Jordan's latest book: The World Is a Kitchen: Cooking Your Way Through Culture
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