Friday, August 29, 2014

National Mustard Museum

Maybe this blog has been a bit boring, one can take so much of presidential libraries, capitol buildings, old homes and botanical gardens.  I am excited that this posting has a bit of zest to it!  We toured a mustard museum, now how exciting is that?  The history, processing, use and marketing of mustard is delightfully served up with a dollop of humor in this unusual museum.  The lady pictured below is wearing a sweatshirt which has the words POUPON U. written on it.  Many of you are aware of John's penchant for unusual tee shirts, finding a shirt here was his main impetus for visiting the museum.
The gift shop also has mustard from every state in the union, as well as from around the world.  For our tasting pleasure the day we were there samples of cranberry mustard and sesame honey mustard were available for dipping with pretzel sticks.  I found both of them quite delicious!  And would you believe that the store even has a mustard vending machine?
There is an funny story as to how this museum came into existence.  It began with a baseball game.  Barry Levenson, who in 1970 was Assistant Attorney General for Wisconsin, was an avid Red Sox fan (he grew up in Massachusetts).  In 1986 Boston made it to the World Series and in the sixth game they were one pitch away from winning the series.  However, the Mets rallied to win that game as well as the seventh, taking the World Series.  Levenson was so despondent that he could not sleep one night, instead wandered the aisle of an all-night grocery store.  He thought perhaps he needed to get a hobby.  Then he heard voices calling him from the mustard aisle saying: "if you collect us they will come".  He left the practice of law in 1991 and devoted his life to mustard.  His first museum in Mount Horeb opened to the public in 1992, he then moved to the current site in Middleton, Wisconsin in 2009.  As the mustard in the grocery store predicted, thousands have been coming, and we came.
Seriously, we did gain some very interesting information regarding mustard.  Canada is the greatest exporter of mustard seeds and the United States is its largest customer.   It is a part of the cruciferae family, which includes such vegetable as broccoli, radishes, and cabbages.  There are three types of mustard plants, each named for the color of the seed when ripened:  black, yellow, and brown.  There are other uses for mustard other than culinary.  In the seed is a powerful oil which has been known to relieve muscle pain and soreness, it also stimulates the heart and respiratory systems. And I now know what to do with all the mustard that was foisted on us at the end of our family reunion, I can use it for a mustard bath!  According to a Colman's ad which I saw in the museum, when I can't sleep mustard will give me a feeling of repose as the blood which is churning in my head (as I worry and toss) is drawn away from my head and distributed over my body.  Actually, if I did not wish to use up all the mustard and perhaps share it with you, only two tablespoons in my bath water would also cure my insomnia.

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