“This Isn’t Thai Food,” Says Newly Developed Robot

Prior to being thrown out of her office in a May 2014 military coup, Thailand’s prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra grew wary of disingenuous Thai food in her travels prompting her to raise the issue at a cabinet-level meeting. Despite losing her governance of the country, her annoyance with unauthentic Thai food remained an initiative that has led to the development of a machine (robot) that scientifically measures the authenticity of certain dishes by measuring its varied ingredients.

"This Isn't Thai Food," Says Newly Developed Robot

Thai Delicious Committee

The sensor and microchip filled box, for example, measures the proportions of Thai basil, coconut cream, and curry paste in a Thai green curry.

The commission responsible for its development calls it “an intelligent robot that measures smell and taste in food ingredients through sensor technology in order to measure taste like a food critic.”

To say that Thais take their food seriously risks great understatement. It’s a badge of honor and no small number of fights have occurred arguing the merits of how a dish should be prepared.

The Thai Delicious Committee, which includes government officials, scholars, a chef and a food critic, spent nearly $400,000 on the robot that judges food to be truly Thai.

“There are many Thai restaurants all around the world that are not owned by Thai people,” said Supachai Lorlowhakarn, an adviser to the National Innovation Agency, which is in charge of the Thai Delicious program. He showed his contempt for the bastardization of the food by continue with, “They are owned by Vietnam or Myanmar, or maybe even Italian or French.”

Thai food tasting robot: Official sanction

As a result of the project and the machine’s ability to measure authenticity, Thai Delicious will allow Thai restaurants around the world to use a logo, presumably on menus, to show that they have been certified by the Thai government.

“We wanted the cheapest and easiest approach to measure food,” said Sirapat Pratontep, who studied nanotechnology in Britain and was a driving force in the creation of the machine. “You just put in the food and you get a rating

For a base line, the Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok put a call out for over a hundred tasters to judge various versions of tom yam, a staple Thai soup. They were rated and the winner became the standard for the machine.

True Thai food will always be that which you find on the street IN THAILAND, but this is a start as far as pushing authenticity beyond the country’s borders.