Mustard: The Forgotten Condiment
By Wil Forbis
I talk, occasionally, of the Jack in the Box diner that exists near my hovel. Itís quite a charming facility, actually... While the nearby restaurants (mostly ethnic fare) are relatively clean, this Jack in the Box is filth strewn, both on the outside and interior. A bevy of teenage punk rockers often congregate in front of it, occasionally blocking the entrance (though much to their credit, never asking for spare change.) The food takes the already ghoulish Jack in the Box fare and perverts it to the degree that you are assured that whatever cow died to make the Sourdough Jack youíre consuming was ashamed of her limited contribution to the process. The service is rendered as lovingly as a SS officer delivering daily gruel to a family of condemned gypsies. All in all, itís as if someone teleported a tiny section of Times Square, circa 1976, into the primarily gay and middle class area of Seattle I live in. And each time I venture forth, to procure a Jumbo Jack and fries, I swear it will be my last.
Recently, I became so ravenous by a swimming workout that I decided I would revisit my dark past and call once again upon this Jack in the Box (especially after heavily pondering my only other option, which was biting into my own arm and sucking forth the sodium rich blood within.) After ordering a singular Sourdough Jack I received a pleasant surprise. The condiments tray, which used to contain exclusively ketchup and mayonnaise, now had the inclusion of mustard packets. (In the past, you had to make a special request to the Jack in the Box attendant who would make it seem as if the task was on par with taming rabid ferrets.)
The truth is, I love mustard. Iíve always thought it belonged right up there with ketchup, mayonnaise, relish and all the usual condiments. And as I recall, the world used to agree with me. In the days of my youth, (the seventies) mustard was expected to be on a hamburger or hot dog, indeed, you had to make a special order for it to be made "persona non gratta." But somewhere along the way, mustard started to disappear. Youíd peel open a Whopper or Big Mac and see only the red of ketchup and white of mayonnaise amongst the glop inside (Or whatever color that beastly Burger King "special" sauce is. You know, the one that taste like a cross between horseradish sauce and dog urine.) You were forced to wonder what had happened to our friend, the mustard. Had there been a mustard shortage in one of the middle eastern countries that supplied the delicacy? Had someone imposed a mustard tariff, thereby keeping hard working Americans from their yellow treat? Why had mustard deserted us?
Iím forced to ponder whether it was the fancy Grey Poupon advertisements that started running at the time. (You know: "But of course.") Perhaps mustard started to get to big for its britches and suddenly couldnít get along with the other condiments. Obviously, ketchup is and always will be the most blue collar of sandwich dressings. And mayonnaise bespeaks of 1950ís middle class suburbia. But mustardÖ mustard is fresh from the old countryÖ a taste thatís spicy yet in many ways unidentifiable. Itís easy to see how the other sauces could get jealous if mustard got a chance to ride around in fancy limos and be more than just a mustardÖ but a Dijon!
Hopefully, the fact that even the sleaziest Jack in the Box is now offering mustard will showcase that mustard is returning to its place in our culture. Perhaps mustard can flow freely from every condiment dispenser in the land, embracing us with itís zesty warmth. In truth, a good mustard is like making love to a large, fleshy prostitute: you know itís wrong, but you are overcome with the sheer bawdiness of the event. You think of people in lesser, mustard-free, countries and the tales they tell of America. A land rich with freedom and bounty and a place where the streets are paved withÖ (you got it) mustard!
I have no idea what this column is about.
Wil Forbis is a well known international playboy who lives a fast paced life attending chic parties, performing feats of derring-do and making love to the world's most beautiful women. Together with his partner, Scrotum-Boy, he is making the world safe for democracy. Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit Wil's web log, The Wil Forbis Blog, and receive complete enlightenment.