Thursday, March 10, 2011

Excursions in Mustard-Ville

A street from my trip to Dijon.

          I went to Dijon recently, even after several of my French coworkers gave me a blank "pourquoi?" sort of look when I said I wanted to go there. Despite their firm advice that there was nothing of interest in Dijon, turns out they couldn't have been more wrong. Apparently they underestimate the geeky stuff that I can be interested by. There were a ton of nifty, Gothic churches, a wonderful fine arts museum, picturesque half-timbered houses, secret courtyards, and a cool little trail of owls to follow on the floor that took you to all the different sites:

Hoot, hoot.
          And then, of course, there was the food. Dijon is right smack dab in the middle of the Burgundy region, so there's the wine, which everyone knows about, and the gingerbread, which no one but my guidebook knew about. I took their word for it, and got a little gingerbread owl (this town is a little obsessed), some regional cheese, and of course, a heck of a lot of mustard. The Place to Go for Mustard is called Moutarde Maille, with the original boutique in Dijon and another in Paris:

Moutarde Maille in Dijon.
          This place would have completely changed everything I thought I knew about mustard, if I had been in the habit of thinking about mustard a lot. Besides the rare impulse to add it to my sandwich, I must admit  that mustard didn't take a high priority in my mind amongst all the important things in life (Boyfriend, shoes, books, pistachio-flavored ice cream...).  But they had 118 different kinds of mustard, many of which you could sample in the store, ranging from mild to, "How can I discreetly wipe my tears away in this store-- this is embarrassing"-level spicy. I even tried chocolate-flavored mustard, which was neither good or bad, but which I hesitantly label "interesting" for lack of a better term. I ended up buying two variety packs of teeny-sized bottles, with flavors like "dried apricot and curry,' or "parmesean and basil," and saved them until Boyfriend came to visit me. 
          Yesterday we got a baguette and a rosette lyonnaise, a special salami sort of sausage typical of Lyon, to sample all the mustards with some wine recommended to us by the overzealous fellow shopper in Carrefour. He saw us deliberating in one of the numerous wine aisles in the grocery store and started giving us all sorts of advice about whites, reds, dessert wines, saying which ones were fruity, which were best with fish, which were the best value, etc. He continued, "I've tried this one, this one, this one, this one was awful, this one, this one, this one is very dry--"
          "You're an expert," I remarked, watching him point to half of the wine in the store. He shot me a look as if I were missing something obvious.
           "Well, you know" he said, "I'm French."


  1. Those owls are adorable!

    I also love that interaction with the French guy.

  2. Hey!
    I jus discovered your blog and I love it!
    I'm french and I'm from Dijon (which I think is cute but boring!) and I used to study in Lyon. This year i'm studying in the US (Minneapolis, MN) so I'm kinda your oposite! Leaving abroad, I totally recognize myself in your articles. Especially when you talked about the keyboard. I have so much trouble to write with the american one!
    I have a blog too so feel free to see my experience in the US!

  3. Thank you for writing such a great blog! My name is Al Strazzeri that's 2 Z's like in zebra like I always say. To quote you any place that "has a heck of a lot of mustard" sounds like the place for me!

  4. dijon is beautiful and it is the las vegas of the east of the france. dijon is magic.!!!