In Austin, Texas, the IBM Watson Food Truck served up exotic dishes that explore computing’s culinary creativity at the South by Southwest (SXSW) event. The recipes were created through a collaboration between IBM Watson and award-winning chefs at New York’s Institute of Culinary Education.
One such recipe was a BBQ sauce. Yes, that’s right, a recipe for a BBQ topper that was created solely by a computer program.
Mark Wilson of Co.Design recently was shipped a bottle of the product, and here is what he he had to say:
Not so long ago, IBM shared Watson’s cooking methodology and first public recipe with Co.Design. Shortly thereafter, they opened a food truck at SXSW. And they also sent a lucky few journalists a beautiful bottle of Bengali Butternut BBQ Sauce, a golden, algorithmic elixir born from the silicon mind of Watson himself.
When I unwrapped the brightly colored box and found the bottle inside, I immediately flipped to the back label. Most BBQ sauces start with ingredients like vinegar, tomatoes, or even water, but IBM’s stands out from the get go. Ingredient one: White wine. Ingredient two: Butternut squash.
The list contains more Eastern influences, such as rice vinegar, dates, cilantro, tamarind (a sour fruit you may know best from Pad Thai), cardamom (a floral seed integral to South Asian cuisine) and turmeric (the yellow powder that stained the skull-laden sets of “True Detective”) alongside American BBQ sauce mainstays molasses, garlic, and mustard.
I pour a bit of the bottle onto a plate of roasted tofu and broccoli — even a pork lover has gotta watch his cholesterol — and tentatively took a bite. Watson’s golden sauce may have the pulpy consistency of baby food, but it packs a surprising amount of unique flavor.
You can read Wilson’s entire account of the programming-made condiment over at http://www.fastcodesign.com/3027687/i-tasted-bbq-sauce-made-by-ibms-watson-and-loved-it