There was a flap a couple weeks back when Barack Obama ordered dijon mustard at a historic burger joint in Virginia. This was considered indicative of Obama’s elitism because he can’t eat ketchup on his burger like reg’lar folks. “What kind of man orders a cheeseburger without ketchup, but Dijon mustard?” Laura Ingraham asks. The answer, David Frum unearths, are those effete coastal elites in Texas. Actually, the Texans prefer regular mustard, but no ketchup.

So how ridiculous is it that these right-wing blowhards are trying to mock Obama for liking Dijon mustard? Republicans have indeed made an art out of criticizing the culinary choice of Democratic politicians. Remember John Kerry’s infamous preference for swiss cheese on his Philly Cheesesteak instead of Cheez Whiz. Yet as much as we might want to chalk this up to the intellectual bankrupcy of conservatism, does anyone doubt for a moment that certain corners on the left would take swipes at a Republican candidate with a soft spot for Spam or, for that matter, Cheez Whiz? In fact, in a post ridiculing Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and others, Jason Linkins goes out of his way to denigrate people that eat ketchup:

What kind of man orders a cheeseburger without ketchup? Uhm, how about a FULL GROWN ONE? Ketchup, and it’s cousin “catsup,” doesn’t come near my food, because I am no longer a small child.

Ahhh, so ludicrous as it is to ridicule a mustard-eater as an elitist, calling ketchup lovers immature is just calling a spade a spade, I guess.

One funny aspect in all this is that in Obama’s second book, a guy named Aaron reminds us that his preference for Dijon mustard makes an appearance in his second book:

He was at a restaurant with his campaign consultant who had been coaching him on how to behave in rural Illinois. He asked the waitress for Dijon mustard, and the consultant waved him off: “He doesn’t want Dijon.” The consultant then shook at him a bottle of French’s already on the table. “Here’s some mustard right here.”

The moral of the story was that the waitress, an actual Real American, was puzzled by the consultant’s Old Politics assumptions, not Obama’s mustard preference. The suggestion, seemingly, was that our nation is not as sharply divided over mustard as pundits would have you believe, and as a result it is possible to solve real problems. Story on p 49.

Everyone’s mileage on this varies. I come from a pretty red part of the country but it wouldn’t occur to me to mock someone for wanting Dijon mustard on a burger. Maybe it’s cause I was raised all wealthy and stuff. Nor would it occur to me to denigrate someone that likes ketchup (or, for that matter, Swiss cheese or Cheez Whiz).

For my part, I am not a big fan of ketchup. Whatever appreciation for it I once had I lost when I had a roommate (a Republican… ooooooh) that put gobs of the stuff on everything. It made me so sick of the smell I avoid it whenever I can. In Deseret they have this stuff called Fry Sauce that is a mixture of ketchup and mayo that tastes pretty good. And I’ll put ketchup on black-eyed peas because God intended ketchup to go there. But that’s about the extent of it. I eat Dijon mustard on Subway sandwiches, but that’s about it. I used to eat regular mustard on burgers, but I didn’t like the way it mixed with the cheese and so I stopped. Now I put mayo or salad dressing, if anything. In solidarity with our president, though, as well as a desire to consume less fatty mayo, I will start putting mustard on my burger. I may even go all coastal and go with Dijon.


Category: Kitchen

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11 Responses to Mustard Valley Wall

  1. Kevin says:

    Doesn’t Jimmy Buffett like his cheeseburgers with mustard? “Medium rare with mustard be nice.” Or is it Muenster cheese? “Medium rare with Muenster’d be nice”?

    I actually prefer Dijon mustard myself. Had no idea that made me an elitist. I also like ketchup, too. Does that cancel out my liking of Dijon?

  2. Peter says:

    Mustard is unusual among condiments in that it can be used practically guilt-free. Mayo, and mayo-derived items such as ranch dressing, are obscenely high in calories. You might as well just scarf down a stick of butter. Ketchup, and salsa to a slightly lesser extent, don’t have many calories, but using the stuff is equivalent to a trip to Bessie the Cow’s salt lick.

  3. web says:

    I can’t stand mayo. I actually make egg salad with a relatively mild mustard instead, my distaste goes that bad for it.

    Then again, dijon mustard is, and has traditionally been, an “upper crust” food. Remember the infamous commercials to that effect.

    Yet as much as we might want to chalk this up to the intellectual bankrupcy of conservatism, does anyone doubt for a moment that certain corners on the left would take swipes at a Republican candidate with a soft spot for Spam or, for that matter, Cheez Whiz?

    I’m comparing Democrat attitudes towards Miguel Estrada (immigrant, hispanic, and “just so happens to be” the only nominated appellate court judge to ever be filibustered, by the Democrats in the Senate) and the following preemptive attacks defending Sotomayor right now. I’ll agree that there are plenty of people on both sides that are morally and intellectually bankrupt, but I’m also pretty sure that one of the worst is currently sitting in the main office of 1600 Pennsylvania at this moment, regardless of what he puts on his burgers.

  4. logtar says:

    I was told by a Texan that they like mayo on their burgers… I have never done Dijon mustard on a burger before, but I might have to give that a try now just to taste it… I love Fry Sauce (call it Pink Sauce in Colombia) try it on potato chips, freaking delicious.

  5. Sheila Tone says:

    In Deseret they have this stuff called Fry Sauce that is a mixture of ketchup and mayo

    They don’t like to call it “Thousand Island Dressing,” huh?

  6. David Alexander says:

    At home and at local friend-hosted BBQs, I eat my burgers with ketchup and mustard and if available, Dijon mustard which provides a a bit of a kick over regular mustard.

    Of course, I grew up in a household where there was always a bottle of Grey Poupon in the fridge.

  7. trumwill says:

    Kevin,
    I think that makes you an immature elitist…

    Peter,
    Exactly right. Mustard’s primary contribution to the culinary arts is the ability to add flavor without adding health liability.

    Web,
    Eh. Everybody believes that the side that they disagree with more frequently is more intellectually and morally bankrupt. You’re right to make the distinction between regular and dijon mustard. Even so, dijon mustard has pretty much crossed the threshold. The request for it was common enough that the restaurant apparently had it on hand.

    Logtar,
    I’ve never tried dijon mustard on a hamburger myself. I did try it today on a veggie burger. I thought it might compensate for the meatlessness. Worst veggie burger I ever had, though I don’t hold the Dijon responsible.

    Sheila,
    Thousand Island dressing has foreign matter in it. Fry Sauce is smoother.

    David,
    How often is it that the version with more kick and spice is considered more upper-class? Seems not to be normally the case. I think of spicy food I think of Mexican and Cajun. Thai is the only really spicy food that comes to mind that is more coastal than middle America. Well, spicy food and maybe dijon mustard.

  8. Kevin says:

    An immature elitist!!! I’ve been called worse. As my grandmother likes to say, “There’s nothing you can say about me that’s as bad as the truth!”

  9. Peter says:

    How often is it that the version with more kick and spice is considered more upper-class? Seems not to be normally the case. I think of spicy food I think of Mexican and Cajun. Thai is the only really spicy food that comes to mind that is more coastal than middle America. Well, spicy food and maybe dijon mustard.

    I’ve always thought of things in the opposite way. In other words, a liking for spicy foods is more upscale, while a preference for blander foods tends to be downscale and middle-American (in both the geographical and figurative senses).

    Perhaps it has to do with Mexican foods and regional effects. In the Northeast, my neck of the woods, Mexican food has long been thought of as being relatively exotic, or at least not downscale. That may weaken the spicy = downscale connotations that exist in other parts of the country. In recent years, what with more immigration from Mexico there’s been an increasing number of casual, sometimes deli-style Mexican restaurants in this area, and it’s possible they may lead to a “downscale-ization” of spicy foods. Or perhaps not – the food at most of them isn’t particularly spicy.

    Mexican food trivia – last week we went to an upscale Mexican restaurant for my stepdaughter’s college graduation, and it cost me $300 for six people, which I believe is a record 🙂

  10. SFG says:

    It’s not like the Democrats never lie or play up stupid issues, but I haven’t seen the culinary thing out of them from any of the major pundits. The ones I read mostly seem to go after the wealth of major Republicans, or any element of hypocrisy that a Republican gets caught in (Rush Limbaugh’s drug abuse). Mostly I think Democrats are terrified of being perceived as too elitist, even though I’m sure the guys who write all those checks to Obama are pretty snooty.

  11. SFG says:

    It could also be that I mentally filter it out; being somewhat slow when it comes to picking up social clues like being expected to finish beers or not dip food (why not? tastes good) etc., I never felt right about ridiculing people for their choice of condiment.

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