Bread pudding with caramel sauce served with a cup of hot cocoaThe proof is in the pudding means that the real worth or effectiveness of something can only be determined by experiencing it. It is a shorter version of the proverb ‘the proof of the pudding is in the eating’, and was first recorded in the early 17th century but is probably much older. The use of the word ‘proof’ meaning ‘test’ is based on an Old French word that made its way into English, and is itself derived from the Latin ‘probare’. Today, it exists in the measurements of how much alcohol is in a spirit (such as 40 proof vodka), and is also evident in words like waterproof, bulletproof and proofread. The ‘pudding’ can now be anything, from a TV series to an actual dessert. In medieval times, however, one approached one’s pudding with great caution! Made of offal and spices, it could be fatal if the meat was contaminated. There was only one way to find out.

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