The Grease Group

There are entirely too many food groups here in Upper Yankonia. No wonder your kids are always confused and pasty-looking. Meats, grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, nuts, bark, twigs, legumes, tofu, veggie burgers, lattes, sprouts . . . that’s all just too darned confusing. As a good, practicing Southerner, I know that in reality there are but two food groups: the grease group and the water group. Woe unto he or she who combines them.

The grease group includes all the things that can be eaten with starches (honorary members of the grease group, along with sugars and other carbs) without causing said starches to become wet and disgusting. If you can bread it and deep fry it, then it’s a grease group food, and that means good eating!

The water group includes all the things that leach room-temperature liquid when they are cooked, and then cool down, ruining the good starches and grease group foods they are served with, which is one of life’s most primal offenses. Never, never, never should you cross the water and grease group divide. If you must eat water group foods (which I suppose some overly-sensitive, rich type Northern folks think they do, just because they’re fancy pants), then they should be kept as far as possible from the grease group foods that should properly comprise at least 96% of your diet.

Some examples? Let’s take pizza. Pepperoni, sausage and ham on a pizza are grand. They’re grease group foods served on a worthy starch. When it gets cold, the grease in the meats congeals, and the starch retains its structural integrity. But green peppers, onions, and pineapple on pizza? Those are water group foods, and it is an abomination to put them on a starch and cook them. As soon as you take such dreadful veggie pies out of the oven, the water group foods rapidly cool down, and begin leaking their awful fluids into the precious crust beneath them, resulting in cold, drippy pizza. How unappetizing! What savagery!

Grilled cheese sandwiches are another good example: bread, cheese, butter? Perfect! You want to put a slice of tomato in there? Then you and I are going to have to have some words, if you then try to put it in front of me. Note well for the record: a proper grilled cheese may only be made with a cheese that you can buy at a gas station convenience store, and it should be pressed as flat as possible in the grilling process on a similarly modest bread. I don’t really know what “ciabatta” and “reblochon” are, but I know you should not make a grilled cheese with them.

Same concept goes for desserts. A pie made of pecans and Karo Corn Syrup in a buttered crust is a divine confection culled entirely from the grease group, but a pie made with apples or berries or any other fruit (bar good, starchy bananas, if they are pulped) is a monstrosity, because as soon as the plants leak their thin, lipid-free liquids into the crusts beneath them, the starches turn to mush, and the pie becomes a chore to consume. If you must have a fruity taste in your desert, there are plenty of wonderful additives and extracts that can give you far more berry bang for your money than something you find in the food-my-food-eats aisle, without leaving slippery pulp or slimy chunks behind. And their aftertaste lasts for quite some time, too, so you can appreciate them longer. Better living through chemistry!

When you get right down to it, there are really no water group foods that have any business being a part of any dessert. Stick to things made with fine grease group items like chocolate, nuts, coconut, lard, molasses, pancake batter, biscuits (all the better if they come in a tube that goes “pop” when you twist it), sweetened breakfast cereal, Crisco, cookie dough logs, and marshmallows. Fruits and vegetables just have no business in desserts. That’s wasting good stomach space on something that you should be feeding to squirrels or growing in your yard next to the dandelions and crab grass.

Tomatoes, while vile in grilled cheese sandwiches, do pose some interesting categorical challenges. In their natural state, they are clearly a water group food. Putting big chunks of runny fresh tomatoes in pasta or a pizza is clearly a crime against natural food law. That said, tomato sauce is, in fact, a grease group food, because all the tomato’s liquids (along with the liquids from any garlic, onions or peppers included in the sauce) are scientifically removed in the manufacturing process and replaced with grease before they are put in those nice big convenient plastic bottles. This is why tomato sauce is allowed on pizza, but big chunks of tomato are not. Tomato sauce is a grease, tomato chunks are a water. True dietary facts, best not forgotten.

Ketchup is still a water group food, though, just for the record, because some of the liquids are replaced by lipids, but not all of them. This is why it’s bad to put ketchup on a hamburger or hotdog bun, since the liquids will wreck their taste and structural integrity. It’s okay, though, if you need that tomato taste, to put some ketchup on the side of your plate and quickly dip your burger or dog into it (if you must), so that when you get it to your mouth, the water group hasn’t had a chance to sully that wonderful combination of grease group greats: meat, bread, cheese. The grease gets processed by the water group receptors in your mouth separate from the grease group receptors, unless you let it sit there too long so that it soaks into the bread, which will trigger the “revulsion” group of taste buds to kick in.

All you northern folk would be much less cranky and uptight if you’d stop pretending that you like such stupid water group foods as yogurt, cucumbers, kiwi fruit, ceviche (why would anybody treat a shrimp that way?) and salsa, and embrace your inner Southerners by loving the grease group foods that leave you happy and healthy and give you the glowing, sleek pelt that you’ve always coveted. I am available to speak at all-school meetings, church services, bingo nights and fish fries if you and yours need some professional training on these important nutritional principles.

Contact me soon . . . because no kid deserves to grow up eating alfalfa sprouts and kale.

A Grease Group masterpiece. Tomatoes not welcome.

8 thoughts on “The Grease Group

  1. Toast two slices of rye bread w/ caraway seeds, and when those puppies pop up out of the toaster, schmear on some golden brown mustard, lay on some sliced cheese, like Swiss, or Gouda, or Provolone, or an aged Cheddar, throw on some sliced onions (Vidalia or white or some kind of sweet onion), slap on the other slice (careful, cause it is hot!), press to seal the edges, then pop that in to a toaster oven to melt the cheese, or grill like you would, and, a-a-a-a-nnnnd, and, enjoy! Accompany with a refreshing beverage, like an IPA or a lager. You have to have all the details precut and ready, because the heat of the toast melts the cheese, so once them puppies pop out, you gotta work fast. You can substitute another kind of hearty bread if you like. Also, instead of mustard, you can use a steak sauce, or even a bbq sauce, but then it must be a lager.


  2. I thank you for a good explanation which I can share with people who think I am “un-American” for finding apple pie disgusting. However, I do disagree with you slightly on the fruit/dessert thing. If you use the proper fruit, it can be combined with grease for a very winning combination. For example, blueberry pie done well is a thing of great epicurean beauty, probably because the berries hold their moisture. In the same vein, dried blueberries covered in dark chocolate, well, that’s just wondrous right there. And have I mentioned fried bananas in a spicy batter, dipped in chocolate? Yum!


    • Hmmmmmmmmm . . . well, eggplant is definitely a water group food, so I’ll buy this argument ONLY if the eggplant has been sliced very thin, then battered in something at least twice its own thickness and fried until all of the water has been leached out before you put the cheese, sauce and pasta around it . . . .


  3. As a former rock critic, I am sure you are aware of the gonzo writers’ four food groups: beer, red liquor, white liquor, and Chee-tos (which may be either the baked or fried kind). Pretty much what I lived on during the Big Hair era.


    • When I was in Athens, GA, I lived on a similar diet, only I substituted chow mein noodles (the thin crunchy kind) for Cheetos. I probably suffered from a lack of orange in my blood as a result . . .


  4. You know, my copious texture issues do not appreciate your analysis of “water group foods.”

    Blech. And to think that before reading this post, I kinda dug a Hawaiian pizza. Now I think it’ll just make me want to spew as I imagine the water seeping into the dough.

    Thanks, Smith. Thanks a lot.



    • Ha! This was a piece that actually ran in the Times Union a few years ago . . . I had breakfast at a diner this morning with the guy who is taking my job when I leave, and while he was having tea, I had grilled cheese and sausage, so felt I owed it to him to send him this, hence the repost!

      If I ordered a Hawaiian Pizza, I’d have to get it “hold the pineapple, double the ham” . . . .


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