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What's New in Meat

As kids we went on safaris searching out animals to fill our burgers with. No kidding, in those days it was like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory but with meat.
Wendy Syfret
Κείμενο Wendy Syfret
30.8.11

I haven’t eaten meat in years. These days it totally grosses me out. I wasn’t always like this, though. In fact, growing up in South Africa, I was a full-blown meat connoisseur. You name it, I’ve digested it. Zebra? Real nice. Guineafowl? Tastes like a chicken stayed up all night eating ham. As kids we went on safaris searching out animals to fill our burgers with. No kidding, in those days it was like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory but with meat. So it’s probably no surprise that despite being off flesh for life, I'm still interested in it. Sometimes I even feel a pang of sadness when something new comes up in the world of meat and I know that I'll never feel the satisfaction of picking bits of it out of my teeth. Not that I crave it, it's just that deep down, I hate missing out. Anyway, that's what this blog is about: new kinds of meat and meat delivery systems. Bon appe-meat!

RECONSTITUTED CARNE
You know when you’re a kid, and you’re looking at the microwave, and you see the button that says "popcorn", and you’re all, “Damn shorty, I could go for some of that!” And then you press it, wait two minutes thinking about that delicious salty delight, then open the door to see nothing there. And you’re all, “I hate this so much. When I am 18 I am so out of here!” And years later, coming home drunk, you’re still looking at that button, longing for a day when instant food is here. Well guess what buddy? It is! Kind of.

A recent winner of the Electrolux Design Lab competition has created a little something called the Cocoon, which is a conceptual fish and meat maker that prepares genetically engineered, prepackaged meat and fish dishes. The machine heats the specially treated muscle cells, turning them from little powder packets to fully formed meat cuts. Yeah, I don’t get it either, but as far as I can tell, you put a packet of fish powder in, and a fish comes out. Pass the James Franco sachet, thanks!

OH MAN THE PRINTER IS OUT OF GRAVY
Fast fact: food printers have been on the techno-food geek radar for a while now. The good people at Cornell University have already developed a prototype for a machine that can literally print you a meal. Up until now they've only managed to print biscuits and desserts, but recently they stepped it up a notch and are now attempting meats. The food printer isn’t that different from your Bubble Jet at home. It has the usual ink canisters, but they contain broken down, raw food elements. These different parts are then reassembled bit by bit to make up the preselected food of your choice. So far that sounds like a lot more work than throwing some steak in a pan, but the fancy part of all this is that you can “reassemble” your food to your liking. The morsel can literally be remade to suit you preferred texture, taste, or even nutritional content.
At present the meat experiments look like something out of a John Waters movie and probably aren’t going to be luring you away from your sausage roll just yet, but it’s still pretty neat.

HOT DOGS, REDESIGNED
This one's a little older, but it's too good/gross to leave out. Generally, food modification is all about selfish pursuits like molecular gastronomy or the global food crisis, but not always. Sometimes it’s about something that matters. Apparently hot dogs are killing more kids than frustrated nannies, and the American Academy of Pediatrics has had enough. They asked design house RKS for alternative hot dog designs, who in turn asked a decidedly more kid-friendly resource for a new design, the Play Dough Factory!

After playing with hollow dogs, grooved dogs, and zig-zag dogs, they settled on a whimsical spiral dog. Thanks to these slinky-loving designers, with a little luck the future will be hot dog death-free.

FUTURE BURGER
Warning. In the future, burgers look like shit. These abominations were created by Dave Arnold, the Director of Technology at the super fancy French Culinary Institute. The actual process of making the burger is way too long and boring to go into here. Pretty much all you need to know is the Soup Dumpling Burger is the most complex thing in existence.

It involves filling a patty with veal stock gelatin that turns to liquid when cooked, and it’s cooked a million times in different ways. The bacon is glued together for some reason, and everything else is cut with a terribly misused cookie cutter. Watch the video to get a better idea of what it actually involves. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take a nice Soylent Green Whopper over one of these space age diarrhea nuggets any day.