The true competition has arrived, just ask the Thai Delicious Committee

by on September 29, 2014 at 3:29 pm in Food and Drink, Science, Web/Tech | Permalink

Hopscotching the globe as Thailand’s prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra repeatedly encountered a distressing problem: bad Thai food.

Too often, she found, the meals she sampled at Thai restaurants abroad were unworthy of the name, too bland to be called genuine Thai cooking. The problem bothered her enough to raise it at a cabinet meeting.

Her political party has since been thrown out of office, in a May military coup, but her initiative in culinary diplomacy lives on.

At a gala dinner at a ritzy Bangkok hotel on Tuesday the government will unveil its project to standardize the art of Thai food — with a robot.

Diplomats and dignitaries have been invited to witness the debut of a machine that its promoters say can scientifically evaluate Thai cuisine, telling the difference, for instance, between a properly prepared green curry with just the right mix of Thai basil, curry paste and fresh coconut cream, and a lame imitation.

Has there ever been a better committee name than this?:

The government-financed 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. A heated debate here on the merits of a particular nam prik kapi, a spicy chili dip of fermented shrimp paste, lime juice and palm sugar, could easily go on for an hour without coming close to resolution.

The full story is here, excellent throughout, and for the pointer I thank Otis Reid.

1 Boonton September 29, 2014 at 3:52 pm

I am reminded of the Futurama storyline where Bender wants to be a chef, but since he has no taste buds no one can stand the food he cooks.

2 anon September 29, 2014 at 3:54 pm

1) Average is Over

2) Will we find these robots in strip malls?

3) Will beautiful women like these robots?

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Can anyone tell me the purpose of this spam? It doesn’t have any links that it could be trying to boost in Google. What’s its angle?

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Ineffective blog comment spammers: There is a great stagnation.

8 Sigivald September 30, 2014 at 4:38 pm

I think it’s misconfigured or broken, and was supposed to be putting at least a commenter website URL in, to affect Google link rating?

9 Mark Thorson September 29, 2014 at 4:35 pm

I’m deeply skeptical anyone has developed an artificial nose that can evaluate Thai food. GC/MS can tell you some things, like maybe the content of capsaicin, allicin, etc., but it can’t tell you if something smells or tastes good. Only a human nose can do that. (Maybe some animals could be trained to do that too, but good luck with that.)

10 Axa September 29, 2014 at 5:44 pm

Well, there’s a adsorption sensor for capsaicin http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18575641 So chomatrogrpahy and spectometry are way overshoot.

At least an artificial nose can tell if the plate has enough peppers/chilis to be considered “Thai”.

11 Bill D September 29, 2014 at 4:44 pm

Alas, even in Chicago, with a fairly large number of Thai restaurants, people either don’t know or don’t care. At least 4 of 5 aren’t very good. Most offer chopsticks and edamame. Lots offer sushi.

Chicago also had it’s first Olive Garden open today.

12 Harun September 29, 2014 at 4:51 pm

Who cares if Thai food is changed from location to location?

Is there some perfect Thai food we should freeze in time and place?

Should new ingredients be off limits?

Should subtle changes in flavoring and regional dishes be banned for some national “taste.”

13 Axa September 29, 2014 at 5:45 pm

Where’s the line between subtle changes and Taco Bell?

14 Brad September 29, 2014 at 5:23 pm

Even in NYC most Thai food is crap. There’s a handful of decent choices in Queens, one in Brooklyn, and that’s about it in NYC.

15 Anthony Deluca September 29, 2014 at 11:24 pm

I really only like Ayada for Thai in NYC. Though there are some other ok ones. Though Ayada is not especially traditional so it may be a bad pick for some guests.

16 Ed September 29, 2014 at 4:44 pm

Well we can have robot blog commentators at least.

17 Thor September 29, 2014 at 11:05 pm

That is not fair to Prior Approval.

18 FC September 29, 2014 at 5:08 pm

“…Thailand’s prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra… Has there ever been a better committee name than this?: The government-financed Thai Delicious Committee…”

At least it isn’t the Yingluck Club.

19 Just Another MR Commentor September 29, 2014 at 9:00 pm

I would perfer if we just brought in more Thai Immigrants to do the taste testing

20 Sigivald September 30, 2014 at 4:41 pm

Well, we seem to have plenty of them around here in Oregon.

(You can’t go six blocks in Portland, it seems, without another Thai restaurant, staffed by Thai people.

I can’t comment on authenticity, having never had the Real Thing For Sure in Thailand, but I suspect that whatever alterations are made are … made to stay in business.

My impression from Thai people I’ve spoken with is that the Real Thing is far spicier than American palates will tolerate.)

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“doing any distinctive trick” gets 9,350,000 hits on Google, all from this prolific spammer.

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24 Tony September 29, 2014 at 10:52 pm

Ha. As someone who spent years eating Real Thai food in Bangkok schools I can assure you most would find it far too spicy.

25 carlospln September 30, 2014 at 12:47 am

TRANSLATION: ‘hot’, as in chiles.

The whole point of Thai cuisine is the balance between flavours, spices, even ingredients. How can some machine divine this?

This story reminds me of the $ billions spent by the USA, and GE in particular, on developing an ‘artificial sniffer’ for Customs, to interdict drugs. Finally, the US reached out to Australia Customs, and their twenty year program in breeding Labradors, to do the same thing: http://www.customs.gov.au/webdata/resources/files/fs_detectdogprog040819.pdf

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27 Eric Rasmusen September 30, 2014 at 11:02 am

What a great indication of national pride! You won’t find a Canadian Delicious Committee, or, despite the good food, a Belgian Delicious Committee (well, maybe a Belgian Delicious Beer Committee— anybody know?)

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Or just deny any post attempt that actually uses the Website entry; do any real commenters ever use it?

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Thai for the one percent?

31 bellisaurius September 30, 2014 at 1:19 pm

Damn missed punchline fail. Thailand being roughly one percent of the world’s population.

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一人1回10秒のみで、2回目はダメってガチンコでやったら誰が人気なのか分からないと思うけどな。
中日新聞を毎日読んで、名鉄で出勤しないとダメだから
大阪なんか行ったら大阪弁しゃべらないと総スカンの差別地獄。

47 結婚 祝い メッセージ October 27, 2014 at 10:37 pm

定時で帰って趣味を楽しめるほど収入得られるのは、トヨタ本体とかだけ そもそもてめえがてめえの為に開いたんだから自己負担があって当たり前だろっての。
あと受付やってもなんもくれない親族はくそ 嫁さん説得出来るならやらないで、親族の食事会とかでいいと思うよ 結婚祝い プレゼント おしゃれ

実際の先生を知らないあなた方が「婆」だの書き込むのはなぜでしょうか? えつさん(女性 39歳 O型 東京都)2014年05月15日(木) 22時41分 結婚式 メッセージカード
自分はタバコ吸うけど、ソコ以外は「とってもイイ人」だから、 ただの祝儀だけなら1万円でいいんじゃね?

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