Fictional media has portrayed a variety of enticing gadgets of the future. Fantasy staples like air ships, time machines and teleportation devices certainly make their rounds, but some of the more domestic and practical manifestations involve food. From The Jetsons to Disney’s Smart House, audiences have witnessed imagined machines that instantly concoct gourmet meals in the time span it takes to tie your shoes.
A device that can instantly generate food seems rather absurd, making it fitting for cartoons and science fiction, but not a likely candidate for kitchens in the real world. However, recent advances in 3D printing technology have made it a reality. Sort of.
It’s true that there are 3D food printers like the Foodini that can create edible food in the same vein that other 3D printers create objects. Unfortunately, the food is limited to being extruded by tubes in ropes of paste, which is hardly appetizing. The paste can certainly create a variety of shapes, which is great for cookies and other baked goods, but many of the creations seem visually unappealing.
Texture is also a vital component in the culinary world, and a paste machine leaves little room for exploration. Even if 3D printing evolved into a complex system that created food rivaling a master chef, I doubt many people would be as ravenous for machine crafted food as something that was prepared by the skilled hands of a human being. Of course, a great deal of food, especially in the Western World, is already manufactured with machinery, chemicals and conveyor belts. Perhaps food crafted completely with artificial intelligence is a part of the natural flow of modern food culture.