Archives : 2015 : January
For centuries, many people have been slathering it on roast beef sandwiches, whisking it into sauces and adding dollops to salads without nary a thought to its history. Yes, we are talking about Dijon mustard, one of the world’s most beloved condiments. Its birthplace is one destination travelers will discover as they cruise the canals of Southern Burgundy on a barge. The place that helped give rise to the multi-billion dollar mustard industry is Burgundy’s capital city of Dijon. Located in the Cote-d’Or wine region, it has been inhabited since France’s last Stone Age, which began in 7000 BC.
The origins of Dijon mustard
Its oceanic climate and soil would prove to be ideal for growing mustard plants and grapes for vinegar. During the 1700s, one of the renowned families involved in both agricultural pursuits was headed up by Francois Naigeon. The patriarch had his own successful gourmet food business and often elicited the help of his family members. One of them, Jean Baptiste Naigeon, was the man responsible for combining Francois’ fine verijuices with mustard to create what the world would come to know as Dijon mustard. Travelers interested in learning more about him and the region’s other mustard masters, including the family initially behind the Grey Poupon brand, may want to read Rosamond Man and Robin Weir’s tome, The Mustard Book.
According to Rare Seeds, who provides two recipes for making your own Dijon mustard, “The most famous modern Dijon mustard brand was founded in 1777, when Maurice Grey (who had developed a recipe for a strong mustard made with white wine) formed a partnership with Antione Poupon (who supplied the financial backing to manufacture the product). They revolutionized mustard making by introducing the first machines to automate its production. Their original store still stands at 32 Rue de la Liberte in the heart of Dijon.”
Mustard cultivation in Burgundy today
Because of economic reasons, the French stopped growing mustard seed in Burgundy and were importing seeds from North American to produce their products. Since that time, Dijon mustard has become a generic term with products being made under that name in many countries. To reinstate the history and lore of mustard made in Burgundy, that has since changed thanks to the Burgundy Mustard Association and mustard-makers like La Moutarderie Fallot. Now, there are a few French farmers growing mustard seed, and France has given products made with those crops “Protected Geographical Indication” status under the name of “Moutarde de Bourgogne.”
Other culinary delights produced in Dijon
Of course, the city of Dijon has much more to offer travelers in the way of culinary history than just mustard. It’s also home to Kir Royale cocktails, blackcurrant liquor, assorted vinegars, wines and a very special gingerbread made with honey instead of molasses. All five remain popular to this very day and are often available for purchase throughout the region.
To discover more about the capital city of Dijon and cruise the canals of France on a barge in absolute comfort, please contact us today. We offer barge vacations in Southern Burgundy from April through October, all of which include a visit to Dijon.
Whenever you’re ready to go barging, we’re ready to help. Happy travels,
Barge Cruise Specialist since 1988