Shape-shifting pasta unpacks itself on your plate
Researchers at MIT’s Tangible Media Group have come up with the cuisine equivalent of flat-pack furniture, with food that transforms into 3D shapes with a few drops of water.
The “transformative appetite” project is based around compact segments of food that twist and wriggle into various shapes during the cooking process. First a design is simulated on a computer, then a film of protein, cellulose and starch is fabricated. Depending on the arrangements of these materials, the film will bend and swell in different ways when put in contact with water. The result: pasta à la demonic possession
In a nutshell, the researchers designed lab-made pasta that bends in predictable ways. “Based on this concept, several dishes were created in the kitchen, to demonstrate the futuristic dining experience through materials-based interaction design,” they explain in their paper.
As the video below shows, the pasta can be designed to contort in a variety of shapes. In one case, it is submerged in a mixture of water and caviar, and wraps around the caviar to make self-wrapping sushi. As well as designs that fold in water, the researchers also experimented with pasta that reacts to temperatures, and even a “self-chopping noodle” that automatically splits into smaller segments.
Pointing to IKEA, the creators of the self-folding pasta says the Swedish furniture-maker can benefit from low shipping costs due to compactness of the 2D segments. “We propose a similar concept for the food industry, where edible materials are manufactured into highly compact 2D segments and transformed in the kitchen or on the dining table into 3D structures, which bring different textures and eating experiences to diners.”
Personally, we’re holding out for an origami roast dinner.