I’ve come around to the view that American yellow mustard (iconic brand: French’s) is actually a wonderful thing. For years and years I was a mustard snob and boycotted the yellow mustard of my childhood. It’s not sharp or hot, is sweet, and has a high vinegar content, which makes it good for hot dogs and hamburgers.

Don’t get me wrong, I still keep a variety of classic real mustards in my fridge:

But the sad fact is that New York is the only American city where brown mustard completely displaces yellow mustard. You can’t even get yellow mustard at low-brow diners. And if you want to have a real West-Coast style burger (thin patties, toasted buns, pre-condimentized and everything layered on in exact proportions), then you need yellow mustard. (You know, West Coast burgers, the kind they serve in many parts of the country, such as we’ve posted about at Rally’s, on the Matablog, or even in New York as we’ve posted about at the Shake Shack, on the Bulletin Board, or just go to In-N-Out Burger if you’re lucky enough to live in a part of the US that’s near one.)

I bought some French’s and decided to try it on the James Beard burger, which as you will recall is supposed to take no condiments except salt and pepper, filled as it is with heavy cream and grated onions and basically seared on the outside and raw on the inside. I also added an onion slice and some sweet bread-and-butter pickles to attempt to get close to a West-Coast effect.

The result looks only mildly appetizing:

It tasted like two good things put on top of one another and not really combined into a single experience. I think I need to make a simpler burger, maybe one of those “don’t handle it very much” types of modern patty, and then revisit this topic.

9 thoughts on “Mustard”

  1. NYC is the only place where McDonald’s hamburgers don’t have mustard on them. I actually called their info line a long time ago to inquire why. “New Yorkers don’t like mustard on hamburgers” was the response I got.

  2. THAT’s why they taste different here! I can’t believe I never noticed that… McDonald’s regular hamburgers are so much sweeter in NYC than elsewhere. I thought that was just me getting older and losing my sweet tooth.

  3. and what will we pair with this mustard you’ll be bringing? maybe a gruner veltliner? i keep coming back to beer.

  4. nice to see Mr. Mustard among your “murderers row”. i have a friend bring that back for me every time she goes home to ATX. (we don’t get it in SF.) we do, however, have the Sierra Nevada line of mustards, from which i recommend the spicy/porter, and i don’t ever like porters. (i’m an IPA guy.) anyway, the Spice is Right! also of note from CA is the Mendocino Brewing Co’s spicy/sweet; interesting because i don’t normally like sweet mustards. lastly, the Free State Brewing Co in Lawrence KS (home of your national champion Kansas Jayhawks!) hosts a March Mustard Madness festival every year, during which, yes, 64 mustards are at your disposal as you eat.


  5. Thanks for the tips everyone. I love Mr. Mustard (NJ I believe) both for the taste and the swell graphics.

    And what about that mustard-based barbecue from South Carolina? I’ve always wanted to try it.

  6. Patrick,

    Check out the Big Apple BBQ Fest in early June, if you haven’t before. There should be at least one South Carolina BBQ joint there (Black Jack BBQ — though I can’t remember whether or not I sampled their wares last year or not).

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