Cut the Mustard

While I was in graduate school, I got a job working as a research assistant (“RA”) for the American Bar Foundation, the research wing of the American Bar Association.  Both were located in a high-security building to the South of the Midway Plaisance.  The summer after I met T, the ABF relocated to the North side, specifically, 750 Lake Shore Drive.  New building, new commute, and I went along for the ride.

Practically across the street was Treasure Island, a magnificent grocery store with an excellent deli.  I was an RA on a project with four principle investigators, and when they were all in town it was sometimes my job to go get sandwiches for the team lunches at Treasure Island.

Treasure Island had a standard ham sandwich that was very popular–baked ham on whole wheat with shredded lettuce and mustard.  This mustard:


My first impression was that it was like “napalm for the mouth.”  I guess I’ve gotten more used to spicy food since then, because it doesn’t seem nearly that hot now, but then–wow!

T and I would get the sandwiches, spread thickly with the above mustard (I’ve always figured they lost money on it; even then it was not inexpensive, and the deli folks would spread it thick) and then we’d get bottles of Martinelli’s Apple Cider (it came in little individual-serving glass bottles shaped like apples–it may still, but I haven’t seen it that way for a few years) and sit out on the grass on Northwestern University’s law school campus and make a picnic out of it.

Over the years, we’ve kept buying this stuff.  It’s pricey–around $7 or $8 for a bottle–but it’s good.  Even during the thin times, there was almost always a jar of this stuff in our refrigerator. It means something.  Of course, we don’t slather it on as thick as the deli people did at Treasure Island!

Every time I get that hot mustard burn in my mouth and nose, I remember those halcyon mid-1980s days.

How many time machines can fit in a mustard jar?

(Optional song to accompany the mustard, just because I like the song:




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