Mustard on Burgers: As Un-American as Texas?

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Photo by arvindgrover/FlickrCC


MSNBC's alleged cover-up of President Obama's decision to order mustard instead of ketchup on his hamburger Tuesday put one of the best-known condiments in the cross hairs of some of the most intense pundits around. But are they ready to balance food criticism and partisanship?

"What kind of man orders a cheeseburger without ketchup but Dijon mustard?," Laura Ingraham asked on her radio show. "The guy orders a cheeseburger without ketchup? What is that?"

While this nation is most certainly in love with ketchup, the man who wrote the book on hamburgers, "Hamburger America," argues that ketchup, not mustard, is the one topping that should never grace a burger.

And guess which state in America uses mustard on its burgers, to the exclusion of ketchup? No, not some liberal, elitist state like Taxachusetts. It's Texas.

Houston Chronicle food critic Alison Cook writes that mustard is so dominant in the Lone Star state that she finds herself missing the condiment of her northeastern upbringing:

A northeastern childhood, where burgers came with ketchup and relish as standard equipment, left me with residual cravings. Anytime a Texas burger--with its classic fixings constellation of mustard-mayo-lettuce-tomato-pickle--fails to measure up, I find myself reaching for the ketchup bottle.
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Eleanor Barkhorn is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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