interstitially, on mustard and memories

Going forward, all my images have hover text. The news clipping has a link to more info.

Today I read a recipe for “Peruvian chicken,” in a British newspaper, which wanted me to use “American mustard.” I had to think about what that is. I remembered how much my mom loved mustard when I was growing up. She loved German mustard most, I think; the grainy kind that tends to come in round glass pots, on a hot dog with sauerkraut. 6f0102b774ad03e9ff0a2038809b5ee9
And there was English mustard, very sharp, French mustard, brown like German but smoother, Dijon mustard, mostly the same as French, to us, and then later there was a sweet-hot one that started to appear at delis. And “beer mustard,” of course, which I think people liked with pretzels. This was back in the 70s, before all the boutique flavors. 15428423934_e8305ebdbe_b

I concluded they must mean yellow mustard is American mustard. D97e520ee06c9a1893b97ce107ecfce5
If here (and apparently Canada) is the only place that’s sold, it makes sense. I thought I didn’t like mustard much at all til I had the sweet-hot kind, because I’d tasted only yellow and German and Dijon. The yellow was sort of briney (like if Chinese mustard was very mild,) and I didn’t like the texture of the German. Dijon was okay in a chicken dish. But these days there is yellow mustard here at the house; it’s okay with a hot dog or ham sandwich, and one of my sons likes it. He likes all mustards, though, like my mom, and now as an adult, I do, too, mostly. I also have champagne mustard in there, a beer one, and Dijon, currently. There might be a grainy brown one in there, too, but I never hear it called German anymore; just brown or "deli." I made some a couple years ago, and I think the recipe just said, "homemade mustard." I think I might try this recipe for spicy beer mustard next, cut down to size. 10.-Pittsburgh_Post_Gazette_Thu__Aug_25__1927_-1-768x900

So if you’re reading this from another country, in case you’re interested, we have many mustards, just like you probably do, since you also live in a culture that was created almost entirely through immigrant migration from every part of the world. And in one of the Carolinas, I never remember which because I guess I don't care enough being from Kansas City, they add it to their barbecue sauce. Barbecue sauce is different everywhere you go, but I’ve been to two decent restaurants that serve a good variety. One of the restaurants was near Times Square in New York, the other next to a motel in an industrial area of St. Louis, Missouri, 950 miles away (roughly 590k; two days into your six day driving trip across the country if you don't stop for anything but food and sleep, which would be silly.) I think it was this place. But barbecue, like mustard, comes in infinite varieties, for infinite personal tastes. Condiments are life. 8c5fad4af99405320c144d0f6ba75622
I think something everyone should realize is that what you see of our culture in ordinary grocery stores is usually just the cheapest and easiest to transport, and it's the same for what we see of yours. But if this is the only country (besides Canada!) that serves mild yellow mustard regularly, certainly that does make it American. At the same time, we have hundreds of different ones we can buy, in various regions. Jungle Jim's here in Cincinnati has a huge selection. And look: there is a National Mustard Museum!

On another note, I read that Dutch and Belgian people have an "American" sandwich spread which resembles steak tartare. The person mentioning it didn't understand why, because "Americans hate that." No, ma'am, they do not, at least, not all 300 million plus of them. They just don't see it as often as they did long ago, because trends come and go here, as they do elsewhere. My grandma used to make it for herself, having the meat ground at a butcher the same day, but I just get it at one of my favorite restaurants here in Cincinnati, as an appetizer. If someone still wants to make it at home, it just takes a bit of nice sirloin (from a good local butcher if possible, but not necessary,) partially frozen and diced by hand. And of course you need a delicious farm-fresh egg for the top. Tartare

The Great Christie Read 2012: Peril at End House

This is not one of my favorites, but the idea of it is super. And it made a good TV movie. 

It's hard to explain why a person can like this book but still think it isn't very good. I guess it's just that Agatha Christie makes you believe in what she's doing. 

The problem isn't plot holes. If you look up this book you'll find people just didn't understand some of it. And well, that's more of a problem, but the real trouble is that most of these people just aren't likeable, and they aren't even really intended to be. I kinda feel like she was trying to say something; a message, about the Bright Young Things in 1932, perhaps. 

Redemption in the end is slight. But let me know if you've read it or seen it and don't understand about the hat or watches. I can explain them to you.

Here's the cover of a 1945 edition.


Advertising Death Match: Cialis v. Viagra

You know those bluesy Viagra commercials, showing the guy he's still a righteous dude who now has the cash and confidence to indulge in all the stuff he used to think was cool from afar?

I am just of an age to find the men in those commercials very attractive. And for those very reasons, but also because they always choose fairly handsome men, of course.

Yeah, I wrote those lines a couple months ago, still thinking this over. The other day, I saw an ad in which a slightly scruffier-than-my-type was suddenly locking eyes with a woman while contemplating the fresh fruit aisle. I was intrigued for a second or two, then it wandered into Cialis AbstractLand, with a rain of oranges that ended in a grove somewhere, and there were more oranges, and I said to myself, "Well, at least they got rid of the freaking twin bathtubs-in-the-woods thing." But then at the end of the commercial, there they were, metaphoring sex by sitting in side-by-side porcelain containers. 

It wasn't nearly as groovy as watching a handsome man fill the radiator of his old sports car.


Who are they truly marketing to? The man who is embarrassed about needing these pills, or the women on the receiving end of the medical miracle? 

Because if it is the women (and it often is, even if you think it's a "man's product" only,) then I'm gonna say it. Cialis, you don't get women at all. There's a reason we're ("we're") attracted to Roger Sterling even though we know he's a bastard. And no, it isn't  "ooh, bad boy mystique." It's because we dig power, different kinds of power, you understand, not just money or a name on an office door. 

It's kind of a grrr thing. It's 2011, we know it would suck to actually be married to a man like that. But we'll gladly fantasize about him, anyway.

Actually, I think Cialis is advertising to wives, while Viagra is advertising to men on the loose, or men who like to think of themselves that way even if they aren't. You know. 

They're defining "romance" differently, is all. Men may not think of romance in as definitive terms as many women do, or the same terms, but we all crave it from time to time. Now, my idea of romance cannot be expressed by an image of people sitting side by side in matching bathtubs in the woods. And I truly don't grasp the oranges, unless you tell me it's French or Italian, and the movie is in black and white, with no sound except a flock of birds screaming in the distance…no, I mean, that isn't romantic to me. It isn't sexy. It's just goofy. 

I can't find that oranges ad online. And I highly suggest you not search for it unless you're made of stern stuff. But here's an equally stupid one. 


I'm just musing here. They're two different kinds of foreplay. In the Viagra ones, the music, the scenery, and the speech are intended to show nerves on edge. In the Cialis ones, it's the equivalent of a wife texting her husband and threateningteasing him by saying she's bought a new nightgown to wear tonight and it's see-through. You know, kinky. (Here is where you giggle.)

I dunno. It's like the difference between him looking into your eyes and saying "I haven't tasted enough and neither have you," or leaning in to whisper in your ear, "Did you go?" before nodding off to sleep. And I know which one I'd prefer.