Grapple factor

Posted by Fuchsia on March 10, 2010
Language, Writing
Grapplous crayfish in Hunan

Grapplous crayfish in Hunan

I’m pleased to see that an American blog has picked up on the term ‘grapple factor’ – a term invented by my father to describe foods which are very complicated to eat, like tiny birds and shell-on prawns. I find it an invaluable term, myself. What about you?

And have any of you invented any useful words or phrases that you use for food or cookery?

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4 Comments to Grapple factor

Alex
10 March 2010

Great term! I had never heard it before. Of course the grapple factor line or event horizon is different for each eater – for instance crabs are absolutely worth it to me despite their high grapple factor but pomegranates are not. And I’m surprised that anyone would say that pork ribs have a high grapple factor – they just require a lot of napkins is all.

Paul A.
10 March 2010

NOT to be confused with — eeeh — “Grāpple® Brand Apples, The Grape Flavored Apples.”

It’s a great term, although I can’t agree with the blogger’s conclusion that it makes those foods not worth the effort! Some of us even prefer foods that require a little grappling.

Fuchsia
10 March 2010

I used to be deterred by the high grapple factor of 瓜子 (guazi – spiced watermelon seeds) – I couldn’t understand why anyone would bother chewing off their fibrous husks for the sake of a tiny morsel of seed. But when I moved to Chengdu I developed a serious guazi habit. I would sit in teahouses for hours, shelling guazi with my teeth like a parrot. It was a terrible distraction, because it’s virtually impossible to eat guazi while doing something useful like learning Chinese characters. The only thing you can do while eating guazi is drink tea and 摆龙门阵 (indulge in idle conversation), which is why they are the perfect snack for a Sichuanese teahouse.

Michelle
10 March 2010

Haven’t heard the term before, but it’s a good one.

I think a high grapple factor makes one 1)eat slower, 2)fully immerse oneself in the experience of eating, 3)increase the tendency to eat “whole”, “real” food that is less processed, and maybe even 4) offset some of the calories consumed! It’s what I love about authentic Chinese and many other international cuisines.

How about a term for the opposite phenomenon, where everything is made into a boneless, anonymous lump to be devoured easily and thoughtlessly? The “nugget factor”, perhaps? :)

Also, LOL at the image in my head of Fuchsia trying to 磕瓜子 and do something productive at the same time. Personally I prefer 榧子 or 小核桃, two nuts with more substance than 瓜子.

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