Dijon mustard in dilemma

There are tragic stories in the culinary world as well. This one is about how Dijon mustard lost its home. The small front building on the Rue du Farbourg Bretonniere in Beaune, near Dijon, doesn’t look as if some 45,000 visitors a year would step through the gate into the courtyard behind it. But the Moutarderie Edmond Fallot is one of the oldest mustard manufacturers in France. Moreover, and this is where the tragedy comes in, Edmond Fallot is the only remaining family-owned mustard producer in France.

What makes Dijon mustard

The first mention of Dijon mustard dates back to the 13th century. The mustard is pungent and is made exclusively from brown or black mustard seeds, which are not de-oiled and are ground cold. This gives the mustard the intense flavor.

How Dijon mustard lost its homeland

A legal dispute between mustard producers from Paris and Dijon ended the regional protection of origin by a judge’s decision in 1937. From then on, the name Dijon mustard was no longer linked to the place, but only to the recipe. In the years that followed, globalization took its course. Major French brands such as Amora Maille are bought by the food giant. The last mustard factory in Dijon closes in 2009, production facilities are relocated to Eastern Europe and mustard seeds are purchased in Canada. Dijon is now only on the label.

Regional identity

Dijon mustard is identity-forming. French people even speak only of Dijon when they mean mustard, and yet they usually eat foreign products. Edmond Fallot has been fighting against this loss of identity for several years. The brand “La Moutarde de Bourgogne”, the mustard from Burgundy is 100 percent from Burgundy. This mustard is produced with Aligoté, a white wine from Burgundy instead of vinegar. This makes it creamier and more delicate in flavor, but also makes it less durable. Using wine instead of vinegar is a nod to the original recipe. In the past, verjus, the juice from unripe grapes, was used.

Other aspects: The original recipe for Dijon mustard / How the great phylloxera plague changed the mustard recipe / Museum concept of Moutarderie Edmond Fallot / Loss of designation of origin / Why Dijon mustard today mostly comes from Eastern Europe.

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The research trip has been partially supported on site by the French Tourism Federation

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