Grandma Test – noun: An evaluation of prepared food in the light of what someone’s grandma in 1880 would think of it. If the hypothetical grandma would not have readily identified the object as “food”, the meal has failed the grandma test.
It is my theory that it is unwise to consume too many foods that fail the grandma test. There are three reasons for this:
- Foods that fail the grandma test usually taste like shit.
- Foods that fail the grandma test are more likely to be bad for you.
- If it failed the grandma test you probably paid too much for it.
Don’t believe me that grandma foods are often cheaper? Try this experiment. Shoot a deer and stick it in the freezer. Then buy (or raise!) a 50 pound bag of potatoes. Live a month on steak and potatoes with home canned peaches or oatmeal cookies for desert. For snacks have an occasional dried apple slice and shut up if you want more. Drink water. Because this is a grandma based experiment you’d better smile whatever food you get or she’ll smack that attitude right out of your ungrateful head.
Then for the next month eat huge piles of Twinkies and Doritos and things that come from vending machines with alternating trips to Taco Bell, a truck stop, and McDonalds (or worse). Wash it down with liter sized big gulps of Mountain Dew. Repeat until you die or the month is over.
At the end of each month add up the cost. You’ll see that grandma was a frugal woman. Then, because you’ve spent the last month eating shit in the name of science, waddle your ass outside and work off that fat!
The grandma test is not an iron clad rule. Moderation states that it must occasionally be violated just to survive in America. Unavoidable emergencies such as the zombie apocalypse or an airport concourse might force one to endure McDonalds or worse. Do what you must to live but remember that McDonalds (or worse) is merely emergency rations. Consider it a caloric blood transfusion to keep you alive long enough to get back to civilization where a good meal can be had.
The grandma test self adjusts to seasonal variation. Grandma didn’t have fresh raspberries flown in from Guatemala in the middle of a blizzard in January. Learn to enjoy preserved foods. Dropping a couple hundred bucks weekly at the local hippie foods store on hothouse organic arugula and hydroponic tomatoes is cheating. (I’ll allow frozen foods. If grandma had been able to possess a freezer she’d have loved it. She’d have crammed every cubic inch of it full each summer! Freezers are even popular with people who can a lot. (Editorial note: “canning” is a verb implying food preservation. Think Mason jars and boiling water baths, not the object in which catfood is shipped).
Examples of foods which pass the grandma test (this is an abridged list):
- Corn on the cob
- Bacon (Hallelujah!)
Examples of food which fail the grandma test (this is an abridged list):
- Mountain Dew
- Big Mac
- Non dairy creamer
- Cool whip
- Nearly anything from a vending machine
- Anything squeezed from a tube
- Egg beaters
- I can’t believe it’s not butter…(I can!)
- Cheese whiz
- Foods that can only be produced within a factory
- Foods that can only be identified by a patented name like HoHo’s, Bugles, Tang.
- Soilent green
- High fructose corn syrup
I’m not going to say it’s a perfect test. It requires some judgment. Some things that would give grandma a heart attack are good for you. Example; kiwi. Other things that would terrify grandma taste good. Example, soft serve ice cream.
Also I’ll give leeway for different cultures and locations. My hypothetical grandma is from an American homestead. She’d have gotten the vapors over sushi, escargot, or a roasted chili pepper. I’ll presume Japanese, French, and Mexican grandmas will have given such fare a solid “OK”. Grandma, had she been blessed with international travel, would have approved.
One more thing, I’m not an 1880’s pioneer. I’ve got a different appreciation of germ theory than grandma. I also live like a king of that era (with is true of virtually all of us) so I’ve got the luxury of being a little picky. I’m sure grandma (especially in a bad winter) would eat some pretty stale and moldy stuff. I don’t have to. I’m a big fan of freezers and avoiding botulism. I have no illusions that the 1880’s were entirely idyllic only that the grandma test is a good shortcut to mostly wholesome food.
Tomorrow I’ll have a photo of some simple food I whipped up in the kitchen. It passes the Grandma test with flying colors and even a Neanderthal like me could make it.