What We’re Reading: March 8, 2014

wine cellar Flickr/Fareham Wine

This week, our editors are reading a few very different takes on the future of food and drink: some hopeful and enthusiastic, some too technologically advanced for us to totally understand, and some devastatingly sad.

Caroline Lange: Computational Creativity — YouTube/IBM Research (above)
IBM is developing technologies with human-like sensibilities, like creativity and taste. As the above video shows, the chef gives the computer a couple of ingredients and the computer is able to match it with other ingredients and styles of cooking depending on a learned history of flavor profiles. It’s all part of an IBM project called Cognitive Cooking. They’ve even got a food truck. If you ask me, it’s Jetson-like and frankly a little spooky (in another, related, video, one IBM scientist tells us, “In five years, a computer system will know what I like to eat better than I do.” Yikes!), but it will be interesting to see how far this kind of technology goes. To what extent might it be useful? To what extent might it actually be accessible to the people in the kitchens? How much longer will humans even be in the kitchen as technologies like this emerge? And what’s wrong with the way we’re cooking and developing recipes now?

Amy Zavatto: A Storm Washes Away Old Ideas About Wine — NY Times
Somehow, last month’s reopening of The River Café escaped my attention (which we covered in this story last March in Edible Brooklyn, if you’d like to learn more about the spot’s storied history), but in this week’s Dining Section, Eric Asimov put the spotlight on one of my favorite wine people, Joe DeLissio. DeLissio, who gambled on culty California wines before they were… well, culty, and built one of the most ground-breaking wine lists back in the day. Hurricane Sandy not only devastated every inch of the barge-based eatery, famed for its views as well as being the Ship That Launched a Thousand Culinary Careers,  but it also took a bat to the 10,000 bottle-plus wine collection that he’d so painstakingly put together over the decades. Something that makes me want to cry just thinking about it. But what I love about this story was how Asimov showed that DeLissio didn’t cry over spilt Screaming Eagle; he took it as an opportunity to be a kid in a candy store, start fresh, and re-imagine the whole list from the lowest wine shelf up.  You can’t keep a good wine man down.

Gabrielle Langholtz: Say No to Palm Oil — Seenox
A good friend of mine is senior editor at Audubon magazine. She shared this horrible, horrible story about what the palm oil industry means for orangutans and I can’t stop thinking about it. As you may have heard, the international spike in demand for palm oil has lead to a devastating destruction of the Southeast Asian ape’s habitat—90% gone in just the last 20 years. At this pace, their jungle home will be wiped out in just another 20 years—and they’ll be extinct in the wild in half that time, all so we can buy chips and donuts. The opening picture is worth a thousand words—each of which is “no.” Learn more here.

Feature photo: Flickr/Fareham Wine

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