Follow this and more of the good, bad and truly bizarre from the world of food news in Slurrp's fortnightly compilation. We've got Taste Atlas' 100 Best Cities For Local Food rankings, the Waayu delivery app's launch, and a lot else.
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IT’S Thursday already! The weekend is oh-so-close, but deadlines are also (alarmingly) nigh. And we’re 131 days into 2023 already, if you keep track of
the ominously quick passage of time... things like that. But we’ve got something to distract you from the heavy and ever-pressing crush of time, if only for a few minutes. Scan our compilation of the good, the bad and the bizarre from the world of food news; it’s the perfect reading material for your post-lunch hour.
Want To Write A Restaurant Review? AI Can Yelp
In its ongoing quest for complete sentience, AI has ventured into the hitherto un-navigated terrain of restaurant reviews. How it will aid its plans for complete and utter world domination is anyone’s guess — and it’ll be a while before the feature becomes widely available in India — but we do know that Yelp has now incorporated AI into its review submissions interface for users.
Yelp is a platform that crowdsources users’ ratings for businesses and services, and for now, the AI-guided reviews have been rolled out only for restaurants. When a user logs onto the app to write and upload a restaurant review, the AI tool keeps tabs of the topics that should ideally be covered — “Food”, “Service”, “Ambience” etc. As the user addresses those points in their review, a green check mark appears beside each. The ones that haven’t been checked off the list can serve as prompts for the user to make their review of the restaurant as detailed and comprehensive as possible. The company said in an official press release that the use of AI was meant to help users get over “writer’s block…when crafting reviews”.
While this is the first time Yelp has added AI to its restaurant reviews, it has been part of its Recommendations function since at least 2018, offering users information like the best or most popular dishes to order from a particular establishment and so on. And even before this, in 2017, The Verge had reported that researchers from the University of Chicago had trained a neural network to churn out very convincing fake reviews — its five-star reviews for an NYC restaurant from three different “personalities” were indistinguishable from real ones.
It remains to be seen how AI will change restaurant reviews — an activity that by definition is meant to be a reflection of subjective human taste, opinion and expression. While it may certainly make the average review more informative, will it ever help generate a post as wild as this one?
Cake Disrupts Volkswagen Annual Shareholder Meeting
Of the many things that you might expect to see making their way towards the podium during a conglomerate’s annual shareholder meeting, cake — unless it’s on a platter, being brought in to celebrate some significant milestone — is probably the least likely. (Okay, maybe an alligator would be the least likely.) But that’s precisely what unfolded at Volkswagen’s shareholder meeting in Berlin on Wednesday. As the board chairman was reading out the usual things (one assumes) about bottom lines and such like, a projectile came hurtling towards his head that he was able to avoid with a quick duck.
On closer examination, it turns out the projectile was a cake that activists protesting forced labour in Uyghur had hurled at the chairman. While our all-too-brief glimpse of the cake as it soared gloriously through the air (before being rudely halted by the projector screen behind the podium) was only enough to ascertain that it was brown in colour, we’ll make a bold guess and conclude that it was probably a chocolate cream.
Cake, to our minds at least, was a most curious choice for this protest. Perhaps it was meant to hark back to the apocryphal Marie Antoinette quip about letting the masses eat cake that is cited as one of the triggers for the French Revolution. Certainly it had sound aerodynamic properties as evinced by its tight and neat trajectory towards the podium — although it did drop a bit of its icing in the final segment of its arc. But cake not eaten is cake that has missed the true core of its existence, and the mere thought of its forlorn remnants smeared on the floor makes us very sad indeed. Then again, so does the reality of forced labour in Uyghur.
Mumbai’s Been Rated Below Delhi On Taste Atlas’ ‘100 Best Cities To Try Local Food’ List
And we’re not happy about it.
Taste Atlas recently released its 2023 list of the 100 best cities in the world, ranked for the experience they offer in terms of sampling local food. Florence took the top spot, with Rome, Lima, Mexico City, New York, Tokyo and Paris among the cities that rounded off the top-10. Two Indian cities feature in the list of 100: Delhi, at #16, and Mumbai, coming in 34th. The former’s chaat and chole bhature were cited as unmissable, while for the latter, vada pav, pav bhaji and bhel puri found mention. We won’t quibble with the choice of dishes, but to say that we’re mildly upset by the vast gap between the two cities in terms of their rankings would be an understatement. After all, the capital may have its charms, but Mumbai’s street food game is nothing to sniff at either.
How Karnataka Eateries Could Offer Free Food To Voters
The state’s High Court ruled that establishments wishing to offer free or subsidised food to those who had already cast their votes in the Assembly elections did not run afoul of any rules/regulations. Having initially received conditional permission to distribute food to voters from the authorities, eateries saw the same rescinded by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike on the grounds that “it would amount to an inducement and a violation of the Model Code of Conduct issued by the Election Commissioner”. However, the Court ruled that as long as no political parties were sponsoring or associated in any way with the free/subsidised food, the BBMP’s contention did not have any merit. Moreover, the food was being offered to those who had already cast their votes, thus there could be no “inducement” after the fact. Armed with the ruling, eateries could go ahead with their plans for free/special meals on May 10.
Even as the government-supported ONDC (Open Network for Digital Commerce) is gradually making its presence felt, another player has entered the food delivery app space. This one’s called Waayu, presumably because deliveries happen at the speed of the wind, and are easy-breezy to complete. Currently, the service is available only in Mumbai — Waayu is supported by AHAR (the Mumbai hoteliers’ association) and other city-based industry bodies. About 1,000 establishments are available on the app for food delivery, and India Today reports that Waayu “promises to be 15-20 percent cheaper” than other aggregators. Waayu’s makers also claim that it will avoid many of the grouses that both restaurants and consumers have with existing food delivery apps, including “high commissions, unfair rankings, biased reviews, and poor quality (of) support”.