Thursday, February 17, 2005

Lick Those Magazines

A Chicago chef has modified an ink-jet printer to print out 'meals' made from edible ink and paper. Different combinations of ink flavors are used to make tasty paper that ranges from birthday cake to sushi.

He says that after getting a patent he hopes to apply his invention to the media and advertising industry. Just imagine what it would be like being able to taste magazine ads or print out food samples from the internet. Do you think this is something that will become widespread? Or will it go the way of all those gadgets from (cue echo-ey voice) "The House of Tomorrow" so enthusiastically promoted during the 40's and 50's?

Personally, with the rate at which us Americans seem to be becoming fatasses these days, I'm imagining whole waves of people being hopelessly addicted to 'print out foods' :-P. Sitting at the computer all day and downloading McPaper burgers and little cut-out french fries. Or people being arrested for compulsively licking magazines at the store. Wait, I think that last one may already be a reality.

Anyway, here's more from

... "You can make an ink-jet printer do just about anything," says Cantu, who is head chef at the Moto restaurant in Chicago, US, and a keen advocate of the high-tech kitchen. The printer's cartridges are loaded with fruit and vegetable concoctions instead of ink, and the paper tray contains edible sheets of soybean and potato starch. Cantu then prints out tasty versions of images he has downloaded from the web.

When the artwork rolls out, he dips it in a powder made of soy sauce, sugar, vegetables or dehydrated sour cream, and then fries, freezes or bakes the sheets. The chef has also taken to printing his menus this way: diners can spice up their soup by ripping up the menu and tossing in the pieces.

... Until he has filed some patents, Cantu is not saying how he modified the print heads to write in vegetable juice, nor is he divulging the recipes for his colourful inks. All he will reveal is that carrots, tomatoes and purple potatoes are involved in his concoctions.

And Cantu's ideas go much further. He plans to cook steak by using a hand-held laser to sear the centre until it is well done while leaving the outside medium rare, or raw. He even envisages using the laser to bake bread - with a crust inside the loaf.

Cantu hopes one day to take his ideas out of the restaurant business and into the media. "Just imagine going through a magazine and looking at an ad for pizza. You wonder what it tastes like, so you rip a page out and eat it," he says.


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