Thai cuisine is one of the most famous and exotic cuisines in the world. Whether it is chilly-hot or exceptionally aromatic and sweet, harmony and balance is the key ingredient behind every dish. Nowadays, you can find at least one Thai restaurant in most western cities but the former prime minister of Thailand, Yingluck Shinawatra, while travelling the world to cover her political duties, encountered a distressing problem; Thai cuisine that was far from palatable.

The ideal Thai meal is a harmonious blend of the spicy, the subtle, the sweet and sour, and is meant to be equally satisfying to the eye, nose and palate. Still, she found the meals she sampled at Thai restaurants abroad were unworthy of the name as they were too bland and tasteless.

The problem bothered her enough to raise it at a cabinet meeting and even though her political party is no longer in office, her culinary concern led to the initiation of a project aimed at standardizing the art of Thai food. The unveiling will take place today and those invited will witness the debut of a machine –  a robot to be more precise!

street cook thaiAccording to its promoters, the so-called e-delicious machine, scans food samples to produce a chemical signature. This signature is then measured against a standard which is deemed to characterize the authenticity of the specific dish. This way it can scientifically evaluate a properly prepared green curry with just the right mix of Thai basil, curry paste and fresh coconut cream, and a lame imitation. With a scale of 100, anything scoring less than 80 will be considered as not up to standard.

The government-financed the Thai Delicious Committee, which oversaw the development of the machine, describes it as “an intelligent robot that measures smell and taste in food ingredients through sensor technology in order to measure taste like a food critic.”

In a country of 67 million people, there are somewhere near the same number of strongly held opinions about Thai cooking. As locals say the characteristics of Thai food depend on who cooks it, for whom it is cooked, for what occasion and where it is cooked to suit all palates. Still, can the estimated price of $18,000 for the e-delicious robot, do the job of a well-trained food critic? Since when can a computer measure taste?

All of us, that love cooking, know that changing the order of the ingredients added or their brand can affect the taste of a dish. As we also know that the best sample receptor for taste is your own tongue. So, maybe the Thai government should invest their money in more important causes affecting their country and use humans to measure taste and gauge authenticity.

(Source: The New York Times)

Lab scientist, sharp dresser and cooking guru Maria is one half of the original founding team. She brings her opinions with earnestness and a smile, even when there are razor blades inside.

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