mustard and miscellany

A story of love and hate

We saw the Wienermobile! November 21, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mustard and Miscellany @ 10:58 am
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Yep, the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile was in my city! Anyone remember when I posted a pic of Schu in front of the Wienermobile before…here? Well, I got ridiculously excited about seeing it again so last week I dragged Schu and our friend Nate down to a Walmart parking lot on a gorgeous sunny day and there it was…

They had the nicest people working there who told us about the Wienermobile – turns out the one we saw this summer was the 1952 version! – and made us nametags…

…we got to check out the inside

They are back seats also that are super comfortable and a sweet flat-screen TV on the wall. We kind of wanted to move in.  It seems like a pretty good gig for the nice young people (I feel like a grandmother typing that, but it’s what they are!) who get the jobs driving this thing around the country doing marketing. Wish I was younger, I’d totally want to do this. They couldn’t have been nicer, and you should follow them on twitter to see when they’ll be in your area @Wienermobile. I’d love to hear if you go see them!

Happy Thanksgiving to the American readers (or as the Wienermobile kids would say, Happy FRANKSgiving…you think I’m kidding, but I’m not). I hope you have a lovely and relaxing day. I think our menu is going to be quite devoid of mustard but I love Thanksgiving food regardless and am looking forward to seeing family and friends this weekend. I’ll post some new mustard recipes soon!

Cheers,

Stephanie

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Schu’s Soda Sampler: Zevia Ginger Root Beer September 28, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mustard and Miscellany @ 8:48 am
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Schu’s latest soda experiment…

Every now and then the health movement thing works. Mind you, it’s brief, but it works. And then I’m harshly reminded why I have no real interest in the health movement. Because the health movement has no regard for the health of my taste buds.

There’s a fairly new designer diet soda brand in some supermarkets. It’s called Zevia, and it’s “all natural,” whatever the crap that means. Because Zevia is an “all-natural” diet soda which proclaims ZERO calories and NO sugar in, yes, all CAPS on its cans, that means it can charge about two bucks more for a six pack than regular diet sodas with aspartame. Because you see, aspartame is bad, and therefore an all-natural diet soda is good.

Well, Zevia does have 20 mg of sodium, which admittedly is way better than the 35mg from a can of Diet Pepsi that is perhaps not-so-gradually deteriorating the pathways to my heart, but it also has 7g of something called erythritol. It’s this new cutting edge sweetener fad that some propagandists hope sweeps the world, just as it’s apparently swept China.

Zevia also has a Stevia extract in addition to citric acid, natural flavors (perhaps my favorite ingredient non-descript), wintergreen oil, anise oil, lemon oil, orange oil and ginger extract. I should note at this point those are the ingredients for Zevia’s ginger root beer. The company has other trendy health-nut flavors as well.

What’s perhaps the most remarkable given the company’s push toward trying to create a healthy, natural alternative to processed diet sodas, is that Zevia’s ginger root beer (and its black cherry drink, which I’ve also tried) tastes nothing like ginger, or root beer (or black cherry, for that matter), but it certainly tastes a lot like Clorox. Or, I guess, what I imagine Clorox tastes like, since if I actually tasted Clorox I probably wouldn’t be writing this blog, although it would be really cool and after-lifey if I did.

Zevia and the great stone monster Damaijin hanging out together

So to review: if one combines erythritol with the herbal sweetener stevia (proof that herbs might be okay for your bong, if you’re into that sort of thing, but a really bad idea for your soda—and no, I have no plans to try hemp in carbonated form any time soon—even if it’s to support some struggling up-and-coming pop manufacturer from Amsterdam), the mixture tastes like bleach.

Maybe Zevia will help freshen my clothes. It certainly did nothing to refresh my taste buds.

Aspartame, I’m coming home.

Schu

 

Schu’s Soda Sampler: Sarsi September 18, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mustard and Miscellany @ 8:49 am
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Today Schu is back with more soda miscellany…and accompanying stellar photography

I like the Philippines. Manny Pacquiao is from the Philippines, and he seems all nice and stuff, and the country considers him a national hero, so if the Philippines can like a world-class boxer who seems nice enough, then I can like the Philippines.

Furthermore, the Philippines makes some really crazy movies, and I like really crazy movies. Like the movies with Weng Weng, the Philippino midget who starred in two spy flicks that have been cult classics for years. Manny Pacquiao is a fairly small guy. Weng Weng was certainly small in stature. The Philippines is a relatively small country. With those things in mind, it makes sense that Sarsi soft drink would be small as well: 8.46 fluid ounces with the not-so-small price tag of 1.29.

Yes, that’s a stuffed Rally Squirrel, a stuffed otter, and only part of a Godzilla collection in the background.

That 8.46 ounces made me reconsider my happy thoughts about the Philippines, because me thinks the Philippines may not be straight up when it comes to marketing. Take as exhibit A, the Sarsi bottle and its Sarsi logo. Look at all similar to a certain much more well-known cola brand?

With a llama. Why, you ask? I ask instead, why not?

And in large letters, as one can clearly see, it says SARSI SOFTDRINK. I think it has softdrink as one word, but nevertheless, the print is larger, and it’s where the eye gravitates. Not to the ingredients just below, which would have tipped things off a bit. Sarsi’s idea of softdrink marketed to look like a cola is a bit different than the westernized definition of a soft drink that is a cola. Because Sarsi ain’t a cola. Sarsi is basically root beer.

Had I bothered reading the ingredients more carefully, the inclusion of sarsaparilla flavor probably would have tipped me off that the Sarsi definition of softdrink (one word) is not quite the same as mine. Now I don’t have any problem with root beer, or I guess more technically, sarsaparilla. Indeed, it’s one of the few parts of a plant that isn’t a fruit that can pass acceptably in soda form.

Unfortunately, when it comes to good sarsaparilla, I wouldn’t put Sarsi at the front of the line. It’s rather flat and generic. On the other hand, as a sarsaparilla drink that models itself as a soft drink with cola connotations, Sarsi is pretty tough to beat. Just like Pacquiao and Weng Weng.

Schu

 

Schu’s Soda Sampler: T.A.S. Mangosteen Juice Drink August 28, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mustard and Miscellany @ 8:07 am
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Schu takes over the blog again today…

The glory of the internet. It allows us to waste countless hours of potential productivity, type soda reviews on mustard blogs and discover new things. In this instance, 1 plays into 2 plays into 3.

In the cyclical world of blog reviewing, to review something one must sample the product for review, so to do this one must…

1, waste countless hours of potential productivity traveling to odd soda locales (in this instance, Asian market G and L Imports) in search of unique, usually carbonated soda experiences.

2. Then said unique purchase can be used for soda review purposes on a mustard blog.

And 3, new things can then be learned. Like: what the bleep is mangosteen?

Without the internet, I might never know. Wikipedia, take it from here.

“The purple mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana), colloquially known simply as mangosteen, is a tropical evergreen tree believed to have originated in the Sunda Islandsand the Moluccas of Indonesia. The tree grows from 7 to 25 m (20–80 ft) tall. The fruit of the mangosteen is sweet and tangy, juicy, and somewhat fibrous, with an inedible, deep reddish-purple colored rind (exocarp) when ripe.[1] In each fruit, the fragrant edible flesh that surrounds each seed is botanically endocarp, i.e., the inner layer of the ovary.[2]

The purple mangosteen belongs to the same genus as the other, less widely known,mangosteens, such as the button mangosteen (G. prainiana) or the charichuelo (G. madruno).”

Helpful, huh? Oh, there’s more. Feel free to click the link here for mangosteen 101. (I wish I could get college credit for that class).

Some Thai company called T.A.S. markets Mangosteen Juice Drink. It’s in a pretty pink and white 10.5 ounce can that had more than its share of dust, collected likely from being in the same refrigerated location in the back of the store for months. And if you can find a soda with dust on the can, you know you’re onto something. Fortunately, it had a year to expire. Thing is, it was canned in March. Five months of dust. That’s way less than most of my apartment.

The Mangosteen soda relaxing on my balcony

The pretty pink can also includes vital information like ingredients: water, mangosteen puree (10%) and cane sugar, and nutrition facts. You know, the usual American fine print. However, there’s also a second table, right next to the “Nutrition Facts.” This is the “Nutritional Information,” and there it tells the consumer vitals such as “energy,” where it includes two categories: KJs and KCALs. I’m not even going to bother with the KJ, but one of the KCAL numbers is 131, which matches with the table’s calorie per serving, so I can sort of figure that out, except the “nutrition information” table lists calories at 130. Maybe that extra calorie is for taste.

An attempt at sunset photography…

Or sweet, which is what Mangosteen Juice Drink has in abundance. While the expanded Wikipedia definition tells me its nutritional benefits are limited (even though there are two whole tables dedicated to the subject), my taste buds tell me there’s plenty of fruity sweetness. If you like sweet drinks, this is probably not up your alley. I’d say it’s similar to lychee, but if you haven’t had lychee either, that probably doesn’t help. Less syrupy than mango, with a liquid texture that might most resemble that faint composition you’d get if you were to crush a pear in a blender and drink it. Indeed, a really, really (and even a third) really sweet pear might be the closest available comparison.

I like pears. Therefore, overall, it’s a soda to which one can get accustomed the more it’s consumed. If you can get past the assault of sweetness in, say, the first three ounces, the other 7.5 go down pretty easy. Soda thusly consumed.

Thank you mangosteen. The things we learn.

Schu

 

Schu’s Soda Sampler: Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray August 22, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mustard and Miscellany @ 8:57 am
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And now, a guest post and new feature from Schu…

Since Stephanie came up with the concept for this blog—certainly for no other reason than to torture my sense of good taste, since all revolves around me—I’ve been filled with hate. Surrounded by mustard, the planet’s—nay, the solar system’s, worst condiment, disdain has darkened by once happy soul.

So as I hijack the blog on occasion, a new strategy is being developed. In addition to chastising the wretchedness of Stephanie’s favorite food spread—actual physical mustard destruction is still in the offing—assuming contributions are allowed, I’m going to occasionally immerse myself in the “miscellany” part of the blog by reviewing an off-the-wall passion of mine: odd sodas.

This oddity thing is such a learning experience. Before the Mustard and Miscellany days, I figured mustard came in French’s and Gulden’s, and some anonymous troll just made the other 20 concoctions, purchased by my mom through some covert network, but not otherwise available to the public. Boy, how my eyes have been opened. And how my taste buds have been threatened even more.

While mustard has been something of a (thankful) mystery, I’ve been relatively familiar with the world of odd sodas. The initial discoveries happened during times away from home. It’s sort of a travel credo: why eat or drink what you could eat or drink at home when you have the chance to try something else somewhere else? This certainly applies to beverages as well, and said beverages—mostly sodas, but occasionally there will be branching out, complete with occasional drinks dedicated to the flavors of actual branches—will be consumed and critiqued herein.

So welcome to the tasty (and that’s not always a compliment) world of Schu’s Soda Sampler.

Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray Soda.

 

So it’s been a long and arduous day of mustard shopping, and I need refreshment to sate my palate. So after a trip to the Middle Eastern market, and the North African market, and the Indian market, we pass by a neighborhood country store that doesn’t have much stock, even though there was a smattering of mustard, and a small collection of odd sodas.

Odd sodas? I’m all in.

Enter. Dr. Brown. Dr. Brown is one of those fringe brands that has experienced occasional success on actual supermarket shelves. I imagine the good doctor (why so many soda makers have advanced degrees is a source of fascination—does this date back to the elixir, snake oil mentality of the late 18th century?) in a series of feuds with Jones and his colorful bottles.

So Dr. Brown has the usual line: soda, root beer, black cherry. And then something a bit off catches my eyes. It’s a green can, and green always means crisp in the soda world. But how crisp, I had no idea. So I pick up the can, and it says Cel-Ray. And I say “no way.” But after studying the can further, it’s yes way.

This is a celery flavored soda. Celery.

I have a lot of wishes, including the one about how I wish I was in the board meeting where someone pitched the concept of celery soda. And someone else approved it. That must have been a heck of a power point presentation.

So at 79 cents for the 12 ounce can, a purchase must be made. The helpful cashier informed me that Cel-Ray was refreshing, but a bit odd, largely because the celery flavor was there, but since it was in an unfamiliar setting—carbonated liquid as opposed to garnish covered with peanut butter on the side of your plate—the consistency factor takes some acclimation. I don’t think she used the word “acclimation,” but hopefully you get the gist. Celery in soda form is kinda weird.

She was also right about the refreshing part, and it’s pretty clear this is the crux of Dr. Brown’s niche effort. Instead of going the 7-Up/Sprite/Sierra Mist lemon-lime based route, they used celery, a clear vegetable with next to no discernible benefits, as the basis for the drink. Part of that makes sense. Indeed, Cel-Ray does not possess the same overwhelmingly sugary aspect that tends to bog down the more mainstream clear soda leaders. So therein lies the refreshing. Unfortunately, it tastes like celery. So, uh, mission accomplished?

So if you like celery, and want a refreshing carbonated alternative to other clear sodas, then perhaps Dr. Brown is for you. I just hope they expand the repertoire to include the peanut butter flavored offshoot.

Uh-oh…

Photo credit: Weirdsodareview.com

Hmm. On second thought, maybe I don’t hope that.

Schu

 

How I celebrated National Mustard Day 2012 August 4, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mustard and Miscellany @ 2:44 pm
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Short and sweet post – we went to a local place that is known for their Italian beef sandwiches, brats, Polish sausages, and hot dogs. Schu, of course, didn’t want anything to do with this momentous day of mustard love, so he got their signature shaved beef sandwich that appeared to be very messy and delicious, dripping with jus. I got their bratwurst sandwich which comes topped with onions, pickle, tomato, sport peppers (I opted out of the relish it normally comes with, I don’t know why I love pickles but don’t like relish) and a generous squirt of Gulden’s Spicy Brown Mustard. I added some more mustard at the table, French’s Classic Yellow.

Yum on a bun

Really good, I would definitely go back to this place. The staff was super nice even though they clearly thought I was insane when I told them I was there to celebrate National Mustard Day. The guy behind the counter did play along, though, by offering that he knew it was Coast Guard Day. When I came back with the fact that it was also National Chocolate Chip Day, he didn’t blink an eye and helpfully pointed out that they sell cookies in addition to their sandwiches. So Schu did participate in one national culinary celebration today…

Note to self: Don’t take pictures of items when they are on surfaces of exactly the same color. Also, take pictures of items before they are almost completely eaten.

Hope you all had a great National Mustard Day! Let me know how you celebrated, I’d love comments, pictures, links, anything!

Cheers,

Stephanie

 

Mustard: the condiment of colonialism July 27, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mustard and Miscellany @ 8:17 am
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Schu here — I’ve managed to hijack the blog from Stephanie yet again.

So there’s this board game. You might have heard of it. It’s called Clue. In Clue, you are provided snippets of information to try to solve a murder. Evil, dastardly stuff indeed.

Photo credit: sixwordstochangetheworld

The old murder adage is “the butler did it,” but in my world, it’s always the Colonel.

Colonel Mustard.

Just look at this guy. Pompous, bombastic, arrogant, haughty, smarmy, smug, and whatever other synonym seems appropriate from thesaurus.com. So full of himself. He claims to have a military past, or that of a big game hunter.

Photo credit: sixwordstochangetheworld

And what do military men and big game hunters do for sport? That’s right. They travel to new places. They conquer new places. They destroy the natural habitat.

But in this case, the only casualty is the taste bud.

With all its flavors and incarnations, mustard pretends to be the sophisticated condiment of the taste bud elite; its imperialist namesake wants to be viewed as superior to all others. Even the maid, Miss White, with whom he would probably like to taint through some sort of Mustard and Mayo tryst.

Indeed, mustard is to the condiment world what colonialism is to the real world. A desire to spread its influence into every possible realm, absorb its being and make it its own. This is why there are so many different kinds of mustard. Mustard is not content being just mustard. Mustard must influence the very nature of every plant, seed and substance it can infect.

Sadly, Stephanie has fallen victim to the rhetoric. As she continues her venture into mustard propaganda by reviewing a variety of different hybrid concoctions, just consider how pleasant that expansion really is. Has that spice-laden imperialist mentality really transformed the eating experience in a positive way, or has mustard simply contaminated everything that dares stand in its path?

Colonel Mustard probably killed in every one of these rooms

Photo credit: silysavg

For me the argument is simple and clear. Nothing is better because of the addition of mustard. That’s why there are so many tragic variations.

The sun never sets on the Colonel’s empire, yet I only crave darkness in Mustardville.

Ketchup just wants to peacefully go on your burger and make it taste better.

I long for simplicity. I long for a ketchup world.

Schu