Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

Mustard seed has been found in prehistoric sites from Europe to China, and was the first and only native pungent spice available to early Europe. It has been made into the familiar European condiment at least since Roman times; its name in most European languages comes not from the Latin name of the seed or plant (sinapis), but from the condiment, which was made with freshly fermented wine (mustum), and the hot (ardens) seeds. Different nations have distinctive prepared mustards whose roots go back as far as the Middle Ages. Mustard is also widely used as the whole seed, especially in Indian cooking, and flavors a broad range of dishes, including fruits preserved in sugar (Italian mostarda di frutta).