Last week I finally comprehended the extent of my love for taste tests. I was bragging to everyone on my volunteer shift at the Park Slope Food Coop that in the 80′s I always won the Pepsi Challenge- every time! My friend laughed, “it’s hilarious that you think you won that challenge.” Ooooh. Certain marketing strategies cut to the core. Pepsi won the challenge, or more accurately, Coke. I can always tell the difference between Pepsi and Coke, because Pepsi tastes like chemically altered dirt, and Coke tastes like heaven.
My gig at the Food Co-op is the best gig there is at that goddess-forsaken social experiment/fancy locavore market: Food Processing. I carry large boxes of bulk foods like dried fruits, nuts, trail mix, hippie chocolate (carob), and other Stoner snacks over to a clean counter, where I bag them into smaller packages, stick price tags on them, and shelve them. Sometimes, I cut the cheese. Most often, literally.
While engaged in our menial tasks, matters of taste inevitably arise. “Is sulfured pineapple better than unsulfured?” “Has anyone tried these chocolate-covered corn nuts? Are they better than the carob-corn?” (see, I told you. Stoner Food). All afternoon, I peppered my co-workers with helpful comparisons of which local pickles pack the most punch (Brooklyn Brine), or which brand of coconut water tastes the freshest (Harmless Harvest). One person finally asked, do you just sit around and do taste tests all day? The short answer is yes, and no. Not all day, but nearly every day. I have tasted all the matzoh ball soups at all the delis in NYC, and I can tell you which offers superior balls. I have sampled hummus from local purveyors to find the brightest flavor. The real question is, why have I not reported my findings here? Perhaps it’s because I cannot recall all the steps of the Scientific Method. Perhaps the reason is my aversion to food photography. Maybe it’s the sudden upheaval of full-time graduate school juggled alongside full-time work. Whatever the reason, I vow to start documenting now.
If you are still out there, Dear Reader, leave a comment with what taste test you would like to see on here? Olives, cheeses, bao, Ramen, fried chicken. . . you name it and I’ll test it.