Fifty Shades of Gray Poupon

Written & photographed by contributing writer Jacqueline Twa

I spent most of my formative years out here on the beautiful west coast, and grew up sheltered from many things…including condiments.

Well, ketchup and mayonnaise have always been a part of my life but mustard was something rare and really bright yellow – sun shiny yellow. In our home it was only to be used sparingly. A little swipe on a ham sandwich on white bread, or sometimes on a hot dog. This brilliantly coloured condiment was definitely not something that you encountered every day. At least in my family.

Looking back now, I realize that I was a mustard innocent. But all of that sweet naiveté was stripped away in junior high school when I met and befriended Yvette, a girl who had just moved to our city. She came from France, and as a result seemed incredibly unique, very sophisticated, and oh so worldly.

I shall always remember the day I was first asked to come over to her house for dinner.

I had never seen anything like the food that was put in front of me. They even had hor’derves – and on a Tuesday night no less! Yvette’s Mom came over to us with a tray of tiny round crackers with what I thought was going to be mayonnaise and a sweet pickle, but in actuality was a tiny cornichon with a healthy slathering of Dijon mustard as its sexy pillow.

I took one, thanked her politely, and popped it into my mouth.

My scalp tingled and my eyes widened at this first taste. My virgin tastebuds were assaulted, slowly heating my mouth and shocking my senses into total oblivion. I abruptly feelt a stiffening in my mouth, my lips throbbing from the tangy assault. I spat out this unfamiliar experience into a million little pieces, watching helplessly as they fell into the depths of my napkin.

My mouth spent and exhausted, my chest heaving from the heady experience.  A strange and somehow savory, sexy taste lingering on my lips from the mustard. It was at this point that I knew deep inside that I would forever be bound to mustard – my new dark, savoury obsession.

When I mentioned this experience to my Mom after returning home later that night, she just rolled her eyes at the thought of serving 14 year olds hor’derves!

Thus began my fetish with mustard.  I dared not tell anyone about my obsession for fear they wouldn’t understand. When I left home and moved out on my own, I immediately went to the grocery store and bought several types of contraband mustard and brought them home to explore and embrace my new mustard-centric lifestyle.

Eventually I did come out of hiding and openly admit that I like mustard. I even began serving it at dinner parties. Today it is unusual for me to make any kind of savory sauce, vinaigrette, wet rub or barbeque sauce without adding at least some mustard. My family enjoys mustard and the things I make with it, with the exception of my middle son who has a morbid fear of mustard in any form.

Perhaps like me, he just needs to experience a mustard awakening.

Laters, baby!

For a copy of Jax’s Mustard Chicken please click here