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Mustard (mustum ardens)
Annual plant of the Cruciferae family. The seeds of Brassica nigra (black mustard) and sinapis alba (white mustard) are used in the production of table mustard and as an ingredient in curries.
Indeed before the introduction of chilis to the Indian Sub-Continent black mustard would have been the main addition of heat.
English and French mustard styles vary considerably. English mustard relies more on the heat of white mustard seeds, while "proper" French mustard (not the English version), uses more black aromatic seeds.
These aren"t the only differences; the French also soak and mix the seed with wine vinegar and wine. The most highly regarded French mustard comes from Dijon, but when buying, make sure that it"s made there (so abides by their strict rules) and isn"t simply "Dijon-style".
When using mustard for cooking, remember that it will lose heat as it"s cooked, so if for example making "lapin á la moutarde" - smear the rabbit with mustard at an early stage, but add more to the sauce near the end of the cooking time.
Made up mustard can also be used to save a split mayonnaise, by putting a heaped teaspoon into a warm bowl, and adding the mayonnaise little by little.
The young leaves of white mustard are often grown with cress ((lepidium sativum) as a salad. See 'Lapin á la moutard'; 'Mayonnaise'; 'Mustard & Cress'