Condimentary confusion

June 30th, 2006
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“On the surface, it seems like a perfect strategy. And it has passed mustard with many institutional portfolio managers.” – Eric Kirzner and Richard Croft, Financial Post, June 26, 2006

We wouldn’t have thought (“of thought”?) a line like that would “cut the mustard” with the Post’s editors. Our respect for the paper led us to conclude that fooling them would be as “hard as pulling hen’s teeth.” We “can’t phantom” how this happened.

Somehow the original allusion to historical military practice, which is passing or cutting muster, i.e., being accepted as good enough to serve in the military unit being mustered, has been lost in the mists of time, to be replaced by a gastronomic metaphor that’s completely nonsensical.

If you read the Kirzner and Croft formulation literally, it makes you wonder what kind of monomaniacal diet would be required for a person to literally pass mustard. Not an idea we want to dwell on.

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