¡Que aproveche!
August 29, 2009 5:49 PM   Subscribe

MacGyver Chef, making snow and cooking with magnets at Alinea, the history of the spork, cooking in a hotel room, a poo machine, and other adventures in food and technology from Gizmodo's week-long series Taste Test.
posted by youarenothere (13 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
also canned bacon
posted by youarenothere at 5:51 PM on August 29, 2009

That poo machine must be simulating a dog, because some of those turds were decidedly on the white side.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:06 PM on August 29, 2009

Is there nothing we do that the machines won't make us obsolete at?
posted by Flunkie at 6:15 PM on August 29, 2009

Also, the guy in the hotel room claims that's just two pounds worth of ingredients? He's having a laugh. The Tortellini alone must cost two quid. The bag of rocket and spinach leaves? A quid apiece. Creme Freisch -- got to be another .80p or so. Probably over a quid for his chunk of parmesan. Twenty five pence for his garlic. About the same again for his egg.

I make that well over six quid. He'd have been better off finding a cheap italian.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:20 PM on August 29, 2009

What I want to know is if the poo has the appropriate smell.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:37 PM on August 29, 2009

I'd love to get an induction cooktop. I'd have to replace all my skillets, because they're stainless steel but don't attract magnets (I believe nickel in the alloy causes this), which I'm guessing means they won't work for magnetic induction. Still, any excuse to buy new pans, especially if it means a new stove.
posted by middleclasstool at 8:12 PM on August 29, 2009

Metafilter: We pick up where gizmodo's header leaves off!
posted by shownomercy at 10:21 PM on August 29, 2009

I'm a bit confused about the must-be-magnetic thing.

My understanding of induced current is that it works just fine in any conductor. I don't believe the copper wire in the (zillion) transformers in my house is ferrous, and yet it takes an inductive charge quite nicely. You can actually even induce a magnetic moment in a non-magnetizeable metal with it. They use this effect to sort aluminum cans during recycling (although I can't find a video of it). They induce a charge in the cans, and then use a permanent magnet to "hop" them onto the appropriate conveyor.

Could somebody explain why the pots need to be magnetizable?
posted by Netzapper at 1:33 AM on August 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

"Induction burners convert about 85% of the energy you pour into them into heat, compared to about 70% for electric burners and 40% for gas."
So what form does the wasted energy take?

I can understand that some might not end up in the food where you want it, especially with gas, but the way it's worded above is just a bit peculiar.
posted by edd at 7:03 AM on August 30, 2009

I have a glass cooktop that operates in a similar method as the ones described in the article above. (I'm not sure what the difference is between my cook top and the magnetic ones though.) They do get astoundingly hot very quickly, and cool off quickly...but you certainly could not put your hand on the burner right after you've removed the pot of boiling water. I'm not a psychics person, but that just seems like common sense.

Mainly I love that it's so very easy to clean, and as much as I like gas for cooking, I love how relatively cool my kitchen stays in the dead of summer when I'm cooking. I also love that the cooktop is separate from the double ovens, which are in a different, better vented, part of the kitchen.
posted by dejah420 at 10:06 AM on August 30, 2009

So what form does the wasted energy take?

Radiant heat that flows around the pan, heats the cooking element, warms up the kitchen (for gas, anyway), etc. With induction, your pan is the heating element itself. Since all the heat comes from the pan, less of it is wasted.

(I'm not sure what the difference is between my cook top and the magnetic ones though.)

I believe yours is, in principle, pretty much exactly the same as an old-fashioned electric, only the burners are more efficient and are underneath the ceramic cooktop, rather than being exposed.
posted by middleclasstool at 10:28 AM on August 30, 2009

I have a burning question in mind, but I don't think it's worth wasting an AskMe over. This seems like the place to ask.

I've heard that one of the defining traits of supertasters is finding cilantro to taste soapy, and the vast majority, if not all, find it totally unpalatable. Here's my issue: I can taste the soapiness, especially in an oily salad with a lot of cilantro, but I like it just fine in smaller amounts. Am I on the fringe between regular taster and supertaster, or am I just some weirdo deviant who likes the taste of soap? I do occasionally brush with Dr. Bronner's soap, but it's a suggested use, and I mainly do it when I can't find my toothpaste and I'm in a hurry.

I know that this probably isn't psychosomatic, because I first encountered the problem when I was about 14 or 15 and I was making a Tex-Mex style rice pilaf. The final step in the recipe was to garnish it with cilantro, and being a Northeasterner, I had no experience with it. My mom suggested I try a bit to see if I like it, so I picked up a wad of it and chewed (I thought it was like basil, with a strong flavor but not a dominating one). I wasn't expecting soapiness, so I gagged a bit. I still ate it with the rice, but my mom kept on saying I didn't have to eat it, and that it was okay if I didn't like it. But the truth was that I liked it in small quantities, even if it did have a soapy taste to it.

My question boils down to: Is there a spectrum of tasting levels between Supertaster, normaltaster, and non-taster, and what does cilantro taste like to the 70% who can eat it? (Random detail that may matter: I like spinach and most other dark green leafy vegetables, but I find brocolli rabe bitter to the point that I gag. I don't have problems with other bitter things, like coffee and dark chocolate)
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:23 PM on August 30, 2009

Sorry for the semi-relevant question (Hey! Genetics are science, and cilantro is food!).

To apologize, here's a link to a famous hoax that claimed to do the same thing as the Cloaca. It pretends to go one step farther, and purports to be a robotic duck that eats kernels of corn, digests them to move its legs, and then defecates, meant to show that the designer used deterministic principles to mechanically emulate life (by some definitions). However, it turned out it only ate corn, stored it inside a compartment, and then pumped out an equal amount of pre-stored duck crap. It's still a neat mechanical feat, and it's more the idea that a robot could do everything a living thing could do that makes the concept so chilling.

I'm now expecting snark about how modern robots could do the same thing with biofuels.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:38 PM on August 30, 2009

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