Proof is in the pudding

中国日报网 2015-01-27 17:29



Proof is in the puddingReader question:

“The new smartphone seems like a quality piece, but the proof is in the pudding, as they say.” What does it mean?

My comments:

Perhaps the speaker wants you to buy the new smartphone, but he’s not so sure. The speaker says it looks like a good piece of work, but admits that you can only know for sure after using it.

But there’s the rub – you have to buy the phone to use it. If it turns out to be good, that’s alright. If it turns out to be a disappointment, the payment is already made. What can you do?

That’s why one can never be so sure in giving out advice.

Anyways, the speaker here is smart enough to admit that you have to try it yourself because, well, the proof is in the pudding.

The full expression is the proof of the pudding is in its eating, an American expression, to be sure, judging from its simplicity. A beautiful expression it is too, meaning you have to eat the pudding to know exactly how good (or bad) it tastes.

Any other food likewise. You have to taste it to know for certain. Hearsay won’t do it. People sometimes tell you, for example, that such and such a restaurant is very good. But you have to dine there once to really know whether it is true.

In other words, experience trumps hearsay.

That’s basically the idea of the proof of the pudding being in its eating. Only when you try it will you know. As the late Teresa Teng sang: You ask me whether love is something sweet; I have never been in love yet. How can I know?

Conversely you might ask kids whether love is something bitter, you’d get the same answer. They won’t know until they have fallen for someone and felt it.

Love is not sweet through and through. Nor is it bitter from beginning to end. Love is kind of a mixture of the two. It’s bittersweet, sometimes becoming very painful indeed. And it is necessarily so, too. It is necessary because, you see, if there is no pain in love, for one thing, we will never be able to feel its joy. For another thing, if there were no pain in love (and life in general), all religions of the world wouldn’t have a chance, like, at all.

But seriously, love is bittersweet. To be in love is to run the gamut of emotions. It covers the full spectrum, from end to end. And I say again that the pain is necessary because it makes one appreciate the joy and sweetness of love even better. Therefore, I recommend that you learn to enjoy the painful part too. In fact, I’d go further and say you shouldn’t even mind tasting the painful part first.

But, I freely admit that the proof of love is indeed in the pudding. You’ve got to eat it to see what I mean.

All right, here are media examples of this typical American idiom:

1. The proof of the pudding is in its eating, women know better it seems, for a study has found that many females are too self-conscious to order a dessert in restaurants.

According to the study, women can spend up to 20 minutes deliberating over whether to have pudding, because they don’t want to be branded “unhealthy”.

By contrast, men don’t think twice about wading into a calorie-packed pud. And that helps women, with 60 per cent of those who do have a dessert preferring to share it, says the study, based on a survey of 3,000 Britons.

Meanwhile, six out of 10 of those questioned said they felt it was difficult to get traditional desserts, with many fearing that they were dying out.

Chris Brewer of Crown Carveries, which carried out the study, was quoted by the ‘Daily Express’ as saying, “It was really interesting to see so many traditional puddings appearing high on the list of men’s favourites.

“Perhaps our taste buds have come full circle as we search for a bit of nostalgia on pudding plates.”

- Women ‘too self-conscious to order a dessert in restaurants’,, November 11, 2011.

2. The Palm Jumeirah is not sinking into the sea, contrary to speculation in recent days, a Nakheel executive says.

The proof is in the pudding,” said Shaun Lenehan, the head of Nakheel’s environment department. “The Palm is intact. If there were subsidence, you would see cracks in the buildings, windows popping out. We have no evidence of that happening.”

But the US$12 billion island has settled slightly since it was created, in line with all artificially created land masses, Mr Lenehan and other engineers said.

He was responding to claims from a landscape surveyor speaking at a conference in Qatar, who was quoted as saying that the Palm Jumeirah was sinking by an average of 5mm a year and might flood in the future if ocean levels rose. The engineer cited satellite images of the island taken periodically over the past few years.

Fugro NPA, the satellite mapping company where the surveyor works, Thursday said its findings were taken out of context and that the island was going through a natural process.

“Settlement is a normal occurrence following construction,” the company said. “No conclusion can be drawn about the long term."

- Dubai palm islands not sinking into ocean, says developer,, December 10, 2009.

3. Making doctors wait is the stuff of dreams.

But fantasy has become reality for those who choose health websites over waiting rooms, discussion boards over diagnosis, and public opinion over professional opinion.

For many, online health message boards have replaced doctors and therapists as their first medical contacts, providing free support and (sometimes) valuable information to more than just the 50.7 million Americans living without health insurance, the latest figure from the U.S. Census Bureau.

But our cough-and-click culture also is getting its dose of misinformation, relying on advice and anecdotes from mostly anonymous sources.

Dr. Frederick Cogen, a New Jersey allergist, says people need to visit the right sites.

“If they’re accurate and honorable, they're valuable,” says Cogen of the health boards available 24/7 with the click of a mouse or tap of an app.

“Not everyone goes to a board-certified site, but there's also a lot of scandalous material that’s not true.”

For instance, patients commonly mention such cures as chiropractic therapy or drop treatments not approved by the FDA.

“Today I had a patient who heard if he took bee pollen from the health care store, he wouldn’t need allergy treatment,” Cogen says. “That’s completely bunk.”

Cogen refers inquisitive patients to peer-reviewed sites such as American Academy of Allergy, “but there’s also inaccurate sites.”

“There is dangerous information out there, and patients will be mistreated if they rely solely on Internet sites,” Cogen says. “The proof is in the pudding.”

His full schedule is evidence: patients still know to visit a doctor, if just to confirm their own well-researched suspicions.

- Is Googling Bad For Your Health?, March 19, 2012.



About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at:, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)


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