There is no doubt that food is going through a gastronomic revolution. Star chefs like Nathan Myhrvold and Heston Blumenthal plus a slew of other Michelin star restaurants have been dissecting the culinary arts for the last few years. But now food has gone even deeper at the R&D level. MIT’s Tangible Media Group are looking to save on manufacturing and shipping costs by introducing the novel idea of shape shifting food by simply adding a drop of water.
The project, called Transformative Appetite, is like the IKEA of food – it’s not just the fun factor that makes this invention appealing, but also its ability to be flat-packed, hence the major reduction in food shipping costs. Wen Wang, one of the researchers from MIT explains, “We did some simple calculations, such as for macaroni pasta, and even if you pack it perfectly, you still will end up with 67 percent of the volume as air…We thought maybe in the future our shape-changing food could be packed flat and save space.”
This programmable pasta is made up of a mixture of gelatine and starch, gelatine being the key ingredient in its transformative nature due to its natural capacity to expand on contact with water. The scientists were able to manipulate which shape that each piece of pasta by using the 3D printer to design how many layers of gelatine each had – the more gelatine the more water would be absorbed, meaning it would curl over to make a macaroni arch.
Some might wonder where taste factors into food being created in a lab, but the research group put their designs to the test in top Boston restaurant L’Espalier where they collaborated to design two dishes featuring squid ink pasta and fettucini. According to Lining Yao, another of the scientists, “They had great texture and tasted pretty good.”
The team have released the software to the public online so expect a whole slew of startups experimenting with the latest craze. Take a look at the video to find out more before ordering your first shipment…