Why yes, that is a scallop nugget in the shape of a space shuttle. Go ahead, do a count down, launch it off the plate and take it for a few orbits around your head before popping it in your mouth. And don't forget to make blaster noises while doing so!
For years you've been told to stop playing with your food. Well, thanks to kids at heart at the Cornell Creative Machines Lab, now it's going to be darn near impossible not to play with your food. How so? They've created a 3-D printer that not only prints food, it lets creative chefs whip up nearly any imaginable design with the most choice of ingredients.
For all you mashed potato sculptors and bakers of anatomical cakes for bachelorette parties worried that your craft is being threatened by a fancy 3-D printer, let's at least hear these guys out.
Using electronic blueprints called FabApps, the 3-D printer builds the food, layer-by-layer, using edible ink. It may sound like a secret Willy Wonka invention, but edible ink can be anything from melted cheese to cookie dough. If it can fit through a syringe — voila — edible ink.
"The electronic blueprint specifies exactly which materials go where — it is essentially a blueprint of the food item," Hod Lipson told FastCompany. Lipson is head of the Cornell Creative Machines Lab.
Larger foods can also be ground down and combined with liquids to make "ink," as was the case when Lipson and his colleagues printed a solid hamburger patty with layers of ketchup and mustard.
New York tech startup, Essential Dynamics, plans to market a retail version of the 3-D food printer for $1,000.
While chef purists, both professional and amateur, are likely groaning and ready to hurl some rotten tomatoes, Lipson had this to add:
"People like to play with food. They like to express themselves in food. This allows them to express themselves in not just what the food is made of, but what its shaped like. We can make health food more fun, interesting, and appealing with this technology. What kid wouldn't eat a space shuttle, even one made of peas?"
Photo: Cornell Creative Machines Lab