Food Stories

Documentary shorts — unscripted — featuring farmers, artisans, and others

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Monastery Artisan Mustard (video)

From a very old family recipe, that remains a closely guarded secret, this mustard is hand-made by the Benedictine Sisters at Queen of Angels Monastery. The proceeds help feed a small community of local homeless people, and migrant families.

I remember it was a typical hot, dry day in August. I wanted to get a short trip to the Farmer’s Market in before the day was gone. So many beautiful fruits and vegetables to pick from. I was in heaven. Almost.

monastery mustard blueberry flavorI passed a booth with 2 ladies with bright aprons selling…hmmm, let me see, what’s in those bottles? Mustard? And it’s called Monastery Mustard? Why? I looked around to get a hint. Up on their big banner, behind where they stood, was printed “Benedictine Sisters”. Oh, okay. Of Mt. Angel. Okay, too coincidental. There’s something more here, there’s bound to be a good story.

I walked over and introduced myself to one of the ladies, who turned out to be Sister Terry. I began to ask her about the mustard and how it came about, and I was intrigued. We exchanged information and I contacted her in a few days to come down to Mt Angel to visit, talk, and film the making of their mustard.

group effort packing the monastery mustard containersCommunity life is important to these Sisters. The community in their Monastery, the town community of Mt. Angel, and the larger community they reach through their participation at local farmer’s markets. And I think, in part, that’s what Sustainability speaks to. Acting locally, participating in your community, has an effect, eventually, on a much larger, global level. Like water rings from a single drop of water, it spreads outward.

After filming the making the mustard, and seeing how it’s made (and about it’s intent) Lynn and I bought a couple of jars. I had not yet tasted any of their mustard. It was mid-afternoon and we stopped to pick up a sandwich at a local shop. Once in the car, sandwich in hand, I opened a jar of Glorious Garlic, and took a small taste. And then another, and yet another. It was hard to stop. I had never tasted a mustard quite as good. Now I was in heaven. At least my taste buds were!

Curt Ellis has a definition of Sustainability that I agree with: “It’s food you want to eat when you know it’s backstory”. This fits in to what I learn about foods more and more.

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14 Comments

  1. rebecca says:

    So happy to hear they came away with the silver! And have I mentioned that Glorious Garlic is my favorite ;) Glad to hear it’s one of Napa’s top favorites too.
    Thanks for sharing this news, Eltear!

  2. Eltear says:

    I just read that the Glorious Garlic mustard again won a silver medal at the Napa Valley Mustard Festival in March. I know why!

    http://www.oregonlive.com/foodday/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/living/1207945527272430.xml&coll=7

  3. rebecca says:

    No, I haven’t heard of Abbey Ales…that would be a very interesting story! That’s one of the aspects I liked so much about the story, not only does it help sustain the Monastery, but it gives back to the community in a big way. So many small towns are strapped for cash to provide some services, and this idea was very creative, I thought.

    Besides selling online, they sell their mustards at 2 farmer markets: Beaverton and Salem. If you have a chance to stop by I recommend it. Not only do you get to meet them in person, you can sample taste all the varieties!

  4. Lola says:

    I love this story! And now I’m desperate to try the mustard.

    Have you ever heard of the monks outside Santa Fe, New Mexico who brew “Abbey Ales” from old old monastery recipes? They use their proceeds to keep their church self-sustainable.

  5. Mary Misseldine says:

    Loved this story about the mustard, and I ordered 4 jars of it!
    I’ve got this Cooking Up A Story on my bookmark bar, which is ever so convenient, so I’ll be checking out the continuing videos and stories.
    Thanks, Rebecca and Fred!
    Mary

  6. Kaleb says:

    What a great idea to get the community involved!

    And spreading it out to multiple “flavors” of mustard is great.

  7. Summer says:

    Wishing you and your loved ones a very happy new year! Enjoy!

  8. Steamy Kitchen says:

    oh yes, and off to by a few jars of mustard!

  9. Steamy Kitchen says:

    Wow! I just found you guys via hmmm….I don’t remember…(been watching all
    your vids for the past half hour!)

    Anyways, wonderful work!

    xo, jaden

  10. Lance says:

    Ahhh, Now im interested on culinary =).

  11. rebecca says:

    @Lance, and they aren’t just for sandwiches!! One of the best chicken dishes I ever made (according to my 12 yrold) was when I marinated some chicken breasts in the blueberry mustard and then grilled them. Yum indeed!

  12. Lance says:

    Ahhh, I love this site. Reading the stories are so interesting. Keep up the good work. Yummy mustard, Got to try one -Thumbs up-

  13. rebecca says:

    Hey Bev! Glad you liked it :)
    Yes, I think they have created a rewarding balance….and some wonderful mustard. BTW, you can visit their site, monasterymustard.com , and check out all the different kinds. Glorious Garlic is my favorite right now, but I still have more to try out!

  14. Bev Thorpe says:

    Once again, you found the perfect combination of tantalizing food and intriguing story. Where can I order this mustard? Isn’t it interesting how the idea for making the mustard is interwoven with a fullfilling spiritual life and community. Thank you for your site!!!