On a sunny afternoon in the heart of Dijon, just steps from the lucky stone owl that gives rue de la Chouette its name, the last Dijon mustard maker in the city has been at work for just under an hour. By the time I step into the diminutive shop, Nicolas Charvy has already soaked the tiny mustard seeds in a mixture of water, salt, vinegar, and white wine to make what he terms “our verjuice,” a stand-in for the more traditional juice of the tart Bourdelas grape (a historic variety that once grew throughout Burgundy, but has now been largely abandoned, in part due to the fact that, according to Les Cépages, it makes wine that is “frankly bad”).
In the middle of the afternoon, the Edmond Fallot shop is bustling with activity: Tourists fill their baskets with local specialties such as gingerbread or crème de cassis, but they mainly flock to the mustard, available in a range of varieties. In the heart of the small store, Charvy is hard at work, pouring the soaked mustard seeds into a custom-made stone-grinder, which dominates the space. A thick paste oozes in irregular dollops from the grinder’s spout, plopping into a large ceramic jar placed underneath. As tempting as it looks, Charvy tells me, it’s far from palatable: It will take at least a week of fermenting before the natural spice of the mustard overtakes its bitterness, and it will be ready to enjoy.
Charvy is the latest in a long line of local mustard makers in Dijon, a status first protected here in the 1600s. Following the 2009 closure of the Amora-Maille factory, he also became the last.
If mustard has long been linked to Dijon, it’s mainly thanks to the local availability of mustard seeds, first coplanted with grapevines by ancient Romans and persisting thanks to 17th-century charbonniers, who produced coal in open fields, providing natural fertilizer for cruciferous plants such as mustard. But following World War II, farmers turned instead to the production of botanically similar (and subsidized) colza, and Burgundian mustard seed cultivation fell nearly into extinction.
It was thanks in large part to efforts by Charvy’s business partner, Marc Désarménien, the current owner of the family-run Moutarderie Edmond Fallot, that the trade has been recovered, with about 300 independent farmers cultivating mustard across 6,000 hectares of Burgundian land, mainly in the Côte-d’Or.
Despite being a Dijon native, Charvy did not always intend to be a moutardier. After a first career in IT, he transitioned to work purveying local specialties ranging from wine to gingerbread at the nearby shop B Comme Bourgogne. It wasn’t until 2014 that he teamed up with Guillaume Vieillard and Désarménien to open this boutique—a satellite of the nearly two-centuries-old Moutarderie Edmond Fallot—and restore mustard-making to its rightful place in the heart of the historic city.
Oddly, Fallot has never been a Dijon-based brand. Founded in nearby Beaune, 50 kilometers away, by Léon Bouley in 1840, the company was purchased by Désarménien’s maternal grandfather, Edmond Fallot, in 1928. It has, however, always been a bastion of the recipe named for Dijon but beloved throughout Burgundy. These days, at its flagship factory, the company still relies on time-tested stone-grinding techniques that notably allow for cold processing, a boon for the heat-sensitive seeds. As a result, and as compared to other local Dijon mustards such as Maille or Amora, Fallot stands out for its slightly grainier texture and more potent flavor.
Unlike Désarménien, Charvy does not come from a mustard-making dynasty. Despite recently being sworn in as a member of the confrérie de la moutarde—the brotherhood of mustard—his career as a maître moutardier seems to be something the erstwhile IT professional stumbled into nearly by accident. But his previous experience has lent him a natural predilection for problem-solving that’s useful given the trial-and-error nature of his work.
“Each mustard, each batch, is a little bit different,” he says, evoking the “small adjustments” he is frequently called to make.
“Mustard production is a balance of the height [of the stone], of energy, and of the quantity of seeds you use,” he says. “That all contributes to getting to a proper mustard.”
Today’s batch (108, if you’re counting), however, is proving to be far from proper, emerging far too runny from the spout. But Charvy is unperturbed.
“I add some more seeds, I adjust it a bit,” he says with a shrug and a smile. “It takes time to get to the right consistency. We’ll need an hour or so for it to be perfect.”
This estimate stems from experience rather than any formal training. Charvy’s crash-course in mustard-making took place at Moutarderie Edmond Fallot’s flagship factory, where he learned the time-tested recipe and sought-after texture. But to hear him tell it, this initial introduction was just the tip of the iceberg. In Beaune, after all, mustard is being made on a far larger scale: about 20,000 jars of mustard per day, amounting to a yearly average of 2,300 tons, sold both at the company’s Dijon store and in specialty food shops and grocery stores across France. Charvy, by comparison, makes just 60 to 80 kilos at a time, a rhythm that, he says, has led him to be far more “interventionist” in tinkering with his recipe on each of his twice-monthly visits to the shop.
And he’s not just making mustard on those visits, either. “He’s also our electrician,” pipes in Florine Humbert, store manager.
Humbert and Charvy make a perfect pair of opposites, Charvy’s reserved, shy smile juxtaposed against Humbert’s bubbly exuberance. But they share more than a workplace. Humbert, too, came to mustard after a first career in accounting.
“I never thought to myself, growing up, ‘What if I worked with mustard?’” she says. But these days, she’s proud of the path her career has taken her on. “Especially with the artisan process. We really respect the work of master mustard makers of yore.”
They also seek to show it off. Charvy’s work at the shop is spurred less by the company’s production needs and more by a desire to return to tradition, both in bringing the time-tested craftsmanship to the heart of the city and, perhaps most importantly, in sharing these techniques with interested visitors. Locals and tourists alike linger by the massive machine as Charvy works, sometimes watching shyly, sometimes stepping forward with questions or simply to take a photo.
Compared to well-known Dijon mustard brands such as Amora and Maille, Fallot is relatively tiny—perhaps another reason why a presence in the center of Dijon was so important.
But the company’s smaller size has also been a boon, making it far easier to transition to exclusively Burgundian mustard seeds (a rarity in the French Dijon mustard industry, which currently sources about 80 percent of its seeds from Canada). Fallot’s commitment to local seeds meant that when international supply-chain disruptions left French mustard aisles empty this past summer, Fallot was the last Dijon mustard purveyor standing.
Of course, as a result, demand spiked and Fallot’s shelves emptied as well. Humbert spent the summer fending off miffed regulars.
“‘There’s no more Dijon mustard…even for us Dijonnais?’” she recalls them demanding.
This August, she even opted to close the shop for three days when the only available flavor of the 37 varieties they produce was a limited-edition cacao bean.
“It’s not everyone’s cup of tea,” she admits.
These days, however, stocks have returned at the shop. The shelves are lined with flavors ranging from mustard spiked with gingerbread spice to a sweet-and-savory marriage of honey and balsamic vinegar, the latter of which both Charvy and Humbert cite as their favorite.
But the shop isn’t quite back to business as usual.
“We have to limit people to two jars per flavor per household,” says Humbert. “We want to make sure there’s enough for everyone.”
While quantities remain limited, Charvy, at least, is finally back to producing his signature: a coarse-ground mustard sold in terra cotta pots complete with an old-fashioned cork stopper, the label proudly boasting the AOC Meursault wine at its base.
“Since it’s a prestigious shop, we used a prestigious white wine,” says Humbert, who notes that the mustard also stands out thanks to its texture, which is grainier than most produced by Fallot. At the Dijon shop, sieving is foregone due to space constraints, resulting in a mustard halfway between smooth and grainy, with a profound spiciness and that balanced acidity Dijon mustard fans love.
“It’s unique to this shop,” says Humbert proudly. “You can’t find it anywhere else. Not in Beaune, not anywhere.”
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What gives Dijon mustard its kick? ›
Dijon mustard is made from brown mustard seeds and white wine — which both contribute to Dijon's spicy flavor and slight kick. You see, brown mustard seeds are hotter than yellow mustard seeds, and white wine is less acidic than vinegar.What is the famous French Dijon mustard? ›
Maille. Arguably the most famous French mustard brand, Maille has been around for centuries, selling vinegar and mustard in storefronts in Paris and Dijon.Is there a mustard shortage 2022? ›
However, in early 2022, as Dijon mustard's availability started to shrink, the Ukraine war broke out. Suddenly, seeds from Russia and Ukraine were unavailable, and Dijon's manufacturers were left with no alternative.What is the difference between Dijon and French mustard? ›
British-style “French mustard” would also be classed as a “moutarde douce” - a term used for certain sweeter, milder mustards in France. Dijon is a dark yellow, with a milder taste than English mustard, but still with more bite and a more classic mustard taste than the sweetish, savoury, “French mustard”.What is the best mustard in the world? ›
The best-tasting anything is in the mouth of the beholder (or be-taster?), but Amora is the French's mustard of France: It's the No. 1 mustard in the mustard-loving country known for mustard-making since the 10th century.Is mustard good for your stomach? ›
Eating mustard seeds, leaves, or paste is generally considered safe for most people, especially when consumed in amounts typically found in the average person's diet. That said, consuming large amounts, such as those typically found in mustard extracts, may result in abdominal pain, diarrhea, and gut inflammation.What is the oldest mustard brand? ›
Gulden's is the third-largest American manufacturer of mustard, after French's and Grey Poupon. The oldest continuously operating mustard brand in the United States, it is now owned by food industry giant ConAgra Foods. Gulden's is known for its spicy brown mustard, which includes a blend of mustard seeds and spices.What is the most popular mustard in America? ›
The nation's most loved and largest mustard brand is none other than French's. The American mustard brand has been dishing out creamy yellow mustards for more than 117 years and has no signs of slowing down anytime soon.Is Grey Poupon mustard made in France? ›
Grey Poupon Dijon and wholegrain mustard are still produced in France for the European markets. Production of Grey Poupon for the American market moved to Holland, Michigan, from Pennsylvania following Kraft Heinz's expansion of its 120-year-old Holland production facility.What is the number 1 mustard? ›
Why can't i buy Dijon mustard? ›
This distinction is crucial, and the chief reason behind today's shortages. Under French rules, Dijon mustard must be made from brown seeds (Brassica juncea) or black ones (Brassica nigra). Usually French manufacturers import from Canada some 80% of the 35,000 tonnes of seeds they need.Who is the largest producer of mustard? ›
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McDonald's Honey Mustard Sauce dipping sauce blends zesty dijon mustard with sweet notes of honey.Why is French mustard no longer available? ›
The shortage of seeds has dealt a blow to French mustard makers, most of which are concentrated in the region of Burgundy, which has a history of mustard production dating back centuries. Currently, local seed production accounts for under 20% of supplies to the sector.Is American mustard the same as Dijon? ›
The two are very similar and you can use a 1:1 substitution. Yellow mustard is made from white mustard seeds and uses turmeric for color. Dijon mustard tastes more tangy and a little spicier than yellow mustard, which is more mild. But the flavor difference is very slight.What country eats the most mustard? ›
France consumes about 2.2 pounds of mustard a year per habitant, making it the world's largest consumer.Which mustard is closest to American? ›
Yellow Mustard: Aka “American mustard,” this gets its characteristically bright yellow color from turmeric. One of the milder mustards, it's hugely popular in the U.S. and can be found at most backyard cookouts involving hot dogs or burgers. It's commonly referred to as just “mustard” by most Americans.What city is known for mustard? ›
Dijon has become famous for Dijon mustard, which originated in 1856, when Jean Naigeon of Dijon substituted verjuice, the acidic "green" juice of not-quite-ripe grapes, for vinegar in the traditional mustard recipe.Is mustard good for kidneys? ›
Mustard is an excellent kidney friendly diet condiment. So many seasonings and condiments are loaded with fat and sodium. One teaspoon of yellow mustard contains only 25 to 65 mg sodium. (Do check labels because some brands are higher.)Is mustard good for high blood pressure? ›
In fact, research indicates that a balanced diet incorporating Mustard Oil, mustard seeds and mustard greens is highly effective in controlling blood pressure and fighting Hypertension.
Is mustard good for your liver? ›
Mustard oil is a very potent stimulant, and can help the liver and spleen produce increased levels of digestive enzymes, which can increase the speed of digestion and body's metabolic capacity. The diaphoretic ability of mustard oil can also help in flushing out toxins from the body.What is the most popular mustard in Germany? ›
The two most famous German mustards are Düsseldorf and Bavarian Sweet. The main difference between these two varieties is that Bavarian Sweet keeps with its namesake, while Düsseldorf has more of a sweet-sour taste. Düsseldorf's brand is particularly famous due to its having the first Senf factory in Germany in 1726.What state produces the most mustard? ›
Mustard seeds are grown only in rabi season and the sowing starts from October, while harvesting begins in March. Mustard is an important cash crop for farmers in Rajasthan, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, among others. Rajasthan is the largest producing state in the country.Who makes Dijon mustard? ›
Since July 15 2009, Dijon mustard is no longer manufactured and packaged in the town of Dijon, but in the neighbouring town of Chevigny-Saint-Sauveur, and 80% of mustard seeds used in the manufacture of contemporary Dijon mustard come from Canada.What is the mustard capital of the world? ›
Due to its long tradition of mustard making, Dijon is regarded as the mustard capital of the world.What is the world's best yellow mustard? ›
1. Heinz Yellow Mustard. I was 100% convinced that French's would run away from this list with a win like Usain Bolt, but Heinz was inarguably the best of the best (and the most well-balanced!).What is the sweetest mustard? ›
American Yellow Mustard
It is considerably milder and sweeter than other mustard varieties. Its bright yellow color comes from the use of finely ground yellow mustard seeds and turmeric.
The most common variety of Dijon — which originally came from the same-named region in France — is Grey Poupon. The mustard seeds used to make Dijon are usually finely ground, making the texture smooth, rather than coarse.What does Grey Poupon stand for? ›
In 1777, the Englishman named Grey began selling his mustard there. He took on a French partner named Poupon who came with money. For 200 years and several generations, their shop in Dijon was called Grey Poupon, and it's a vacation destination for mustard lovers from all over the world.What does Grey Poupon means? ›
From Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Grey Pou‧pon /ˌɡreɪ puːˈpɒn $ -ˈpɑːn/ trademark a type of mustard sold in the US, which is typically bought by people who eat expensive, high quality foods.
Which mustard is the healthiest? ›
Yellow mustard is rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that help in balancing cholesterol levels. It reduces the LDL or 'bad' cholesterol level and increases the HDL or 'good' cholesterol level in the body, thereby reducing your risk of cardiovascular diseases.Is mustard healthier than mayo? ›
In addition to adding some snap to your sandwich, mustard is one of the healthiest condiments. Mustard has fewer calories than ketchup, sweet relish or mayonnaise. Flavored mustards, such as honey mustard or beer mustard, also are low in calories, but they do have more calories than brown or yellow mustard.Who is the mustard king? ›
By 1875, Jim Jack had roughly 100 Chinese immigrants working for him, clearing mustard plants from over 10,000 acres of local farmland, and he owned tons of mustard seeds.What country produces the most Dijon mustard? ›
Most of the world's dijon mustard is produced in the Burgundy region of France, but most of the seed is grown in southern Canada, Mashed reported.Is there a mustard shortage in the US? ›
Not so far. Yellow mustard is made from white mustard seeds, not brown like dijon, and those crops haven't suffered the same as brown mustard. Grocery stores are still well-stocked with yellow mustard, but you'll already find dijon and spicy mustard supplies low.What can I add to yellow mustard to make it taste like Dijon? ›
What Can I Add to Yellow Mustard to Make it Dijon? It's surprisingly easy to upgrade your regular yellow mustard to make it taste more like Dijon. All that's needed is a tablespoon of white wine vinegar (or ½ tablespoon white wine and ½ tablespoon vinegar).Who grows the most mustard seed in the world? ›
Mustard seed is produced in over 21 different countries. Canada is the world's leading producer of mustard seed.Which is the largest producer of mustard in the world 2022? ›
Majority of the production is found in upper Midwest United States and Canada.What nationality invented mustard? ›
It is believed to have originated in Ancient Egypt. The Greeks used Mustard as a medicine and a spice. The Romans emulated the Greeks using it as both food and medicine as well, ascribing it as a cure for anything from hysteria to snakebite to bubonic plague.Why is Dijon mustard so good? ›
Its sharp and strong flavor can be used in most places yellow mustard can when you're looking to add a more of a mustard-y bite. Dijon works especially well in vinaigrettes, mayos, and sauces, where a little can go a long way in developing flavor.
What makes Dijon mustard spicy? ›
The main difference between spicy mustard and Dijon is the liquid with which the ground mustard seed plants are combined. Dijon mustard seeds are typically combined with unripe grapes while spicy brown mustard uses vinegar, which produces a different flavor profile.How does mustard work as a binder? ›
People will often refer to the mustard as a "binder, schmear, or slather" as its purpose is to act as a glue for the dry rub and the meat. During the smoking process, the liquid components of the mustard vaporize, meaning the mustard layer imparts no flavor that's capable of being tasted.What is America's favorite mustard? ›
French's, America's favorite mustard, is made for elevating your menu items. Spread it onto deli sandwiches, whisk into vinaigrettes and sauces, or use as a base for marinades for flavorful proteins.What does mustard do to your body? ›
Mustard is good for you because it contains several antioxidants that provide various health benefits including anti-cancer, antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and wound-healing properties. 1 Mustard is a low-calorie highly flavored condiment that can replace or augment more calorie dense options.Why do people put mustard in Bath? ›
Mustard baths are a traditional remedy in England-- used for the treatment of colds, stress, fatigued and achy muscles, fever and congestion. Mustard has been known to stimulate the sweat glands, opening the pores and helping the body rid itself of toxins.What is the difference between Dijon mustard and GREY Poupon? ›
The most common variety of Dijon — which originally came from the same-named region in France — is Grey Poupon. The mustard seeds used to make Dijon are usually finely ground, making the texture smooth, rather than coarse.What is the hottest mustard in the world? ›
Black seeded mustard is generally regarded as the hottest type.Why put mustard on meat before grilling? ›
The mustard actually works to tenderize the meat and you will notice little more than a thin crust of it over the surface of the meat. In fact, mustard can help to produce the crust that is so sought after in traditional barbecue.What does eating a spoonful of mustard do? ›
Mustard is known for its rubefacient properties which can help in relieving any kind of muscle spasm. Consuming a tsp of yellow mustard powder can help in maintaining strong bones, joints and muscles as it is a good source of potassium and calcium.Why put mustard on chicken before frying? ›
Putting mustard on chicken before rub will help the seasonings adhere to the skin. Most of the time, the acrid flavor will dissipate during the cooking process. If you're not a fan of mustard, a layer of cooking spray, oil, or melted butter will give the chicken skin similar binding properties.
Why do you cover meat in mustard? ›
First, it will help the seasoning adhere to the meat more evenly and not fall off while smoking. Second, the mustard helps develop a smoky and delightful “bark” of flavor on the outside of your meat.