Sinapis alba

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The Grand Moutardier of His Holiness.


Pope John XXII (1316 - 34), ruling in Avignone, missed mustard so much that he created a special post of "the Great Moutardier of His Holiness" ("grand moutardier du pape") at his court. The job of the moutardier was to produce and supply the Pope's court with the highest quality of mustard, the favorite condiment of the Pope. Some bitter people said that it was simply a position created for a relative who was so dumb that he could not be nominated for the position of a Cardinal. From this time, a bighead, a dumb person with connections, was called "The Popes Moutardier". 

Pope Clement VI (1352 - 1362) also loved his mustard, and good producers of it could count on great influences in the Pope's court. Various Kings have also considered mustard as a first class priority. Louis XIV took a barrel of mustard on all of his travels, and it is said that his liking of golden dress was not due to his love of the sun, but rather his love of mustard. 

The white mustard plant (Sinapis alba, Brassica nigra ), from which mustard is produced is a small annual plant with golden flowers that has been known for thousands of years. The seeds of the white mustard, which contain the valuable oil as well as glycosides with a sharp taste, have been found in excavations from the Summer times, and were well known in Ancient India and Greece. In Medieval Europe there were traveling moutardiers as well as residents, who produced mustard for sale and closely guarded the secrets and recipes of the profession. Traveling moutardiers carried with them (on them) all that was required for the production of mustard, as can be seen in the attached illustration. In Poland, in the XX century, mustard ( and vinegar) was bought from the moutardier or vinegar producer.

The profession has disappeared, such as many others, absorbed by mass producing factories. Now, one can only buy home made mustard at parochial fairs. 

 

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(C) (selected from publications of 
 R. Antoszewski

Titirangi, Auckland, 
New Zeland

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February  2003

v.16