Vada Pav Wins; Raw Food Diet Loses: Food News That Caused Stir
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It’s Wednesday, the Fourth Day of this 23rd Year of the Third Millennium, and there’s lots to report on from the food world. Without much ado, let’s dive right in:


ChatGPT has spoken… and it’s pronounced the vada pav as Mumbai’s best street food.

Sorry pav bhaji lovers, but a Higher Power than us mere mortals has decided on which dish deserves the title of “Mumbai’s Best Street Food”, and it’s a decisive victory for the vada pav. The vada pav’s triumph came about courtesy a Satya Nadella session at Microsoft’s recent leadership summit in Mumbai. According to MoneyControl, Nadella asked ChatGPT to rank Mumbai’s best-known street foods, and the AI-driven chat robot chose vada pav, followed by pav bhaji, bhel puri, dahi puri, chaat, pani puri and Mumbai sandwich. Then, ChatGPT went on to list where the best vada pav could be found in the city, and proceeded to write a play where the vada pav argued its case against all of the other raggedy pretenders to the “Best Street Food” crown, at which point, we think the chatbot was just showing off. Hey ChatGPT, here's something your data set didn't tell you: Nobody likes a show-off!

Zomato’s 2022 recap hits where it hurts most

And that is, right at our guilty, overspending, lazy, unhealthy and gluttonous cores. If Swiggy’s 2022 report included relatively tame insights like chips being the most ordered snack on the app (duh!), Zomato’s is full of juicy and voyeuristic tidbits: like, a Pune man spending Rs 28 lakh in food delivery over 2022 on the app, as reported by Business Today. Or a Delhi man having the dubious distinction of placing over 3,000 food orders in 2022, which works out to around nine meal deliveries a day. Hey, Delhi Man and Pune Man could be feeding a lot of mouths; unlike Zomato, Slurrp is a safe space: no judgments here.

You’d better leave the jalebis, tandoori chicken and nimbu paani at home when planning a trip to the multiplex.

And if you’re wondering why we’re dishing out such unasked-for advice, then we’ll quickly say this in our defense: tis the law! The Supreme Court of India has ruled that cinema owners are perfectly within their rights to ban moviegoers from bringing in outside food and water. However, the onus is on theatre management to provide clean drinking water to the audience, and parents are permitted to carry a “reasonable” amount of food for their children. (A burning question raging in our bhukkad selves: Who defines “reasonable amount of food” anyway?) The question of whether or not customers should be allowed to carry their own food and drinks into theatres has long been a bone of contention between cinema owners and audiences. The problem is especially acute at multiplexes where steep ticket prices are accompanied by equally steep rates for snacks and beverages at in-house concession stands. That popcorn ain't cheap! A family outing can make a sizable dent in the monthly budget accounting for these costs, which consumers have sought to defray by seeking to carry their own food and drink.

Visiting NRIs will be offered free food in Indore during Pravasi Bharatiya Divas celebrations.

Woohoo, we guess? As part of the PBD events, the street food of Indore will be showcased to visitors, and certain iconic delicacies will be made available free of cost from January 7, report the good folks over at Free Press Journal. Street food hubs Chappan, Sarafa, Meghdoot Gardens and Kalani Nagar are among the participating venues, and a range of food options, including matar-kachori, garadu and doodh-jalebi have been incorporated into the PBD celebrations. We’re not NRIs, so we’ll just say “Enjoy your free matar-kachoris, homies”.


Finally, some good news for Keto — it’s no longer The Absolute Worst

The much-reviled fad has finally (!) been bumped up from its perennial spot as “worst diet ever” among a coterie of like-minded peers. The panel of health and nutrition experts over at the US News & World Report, who release annual rankings on matters of health and nutrition, have officially given Keto’s long-standing label to the raw-food diet. To add insult to this fresh injury (we suspect RFD hasn’t had time to develop quite the thick skin Keto’s had to), the experts went so far as to call it “worst overall eating plan for 2023” from among 24 diets that were all desperately vying to avoid the title, reports Business Insider. Sheesh, these experts really don’t believe in sugarcoating the truth, do they? Although, for a diet that preaches “only foods that haven't been cooked, such as fruits and veggies, sprouted grains and beans, and sometimes animal products like raw fish or unprocessed dairy”, perhaps the unequivocal censure is merely its just desserts. 

Frozen food has been named Japan’s “Dish of the Year” for 2022.

The title comes from the Gurunavi Research Institute’s annual survey, which asks people to pick the food trend they think best encapsulated the year. Previous “dishes of the year” have included “Chinese cooking” and “plant-based meats”. Japan saw a 20 percent rise in sales of frozen foods from 2019 to 2021, according to the Ministry for Internal Affairs. The COVID-19 pandemic is believed to have been the major contributing factor in the shift towards frozen foods, as apart from grocery stores, even fine-dining restaurants have invested in flash freezing their dishes for easy takeaway and delivery, says CNN.

France has enforced a ban on single-use tableware in eateries.

Any establishment that can seat over 20 diners — be it fast-food chains like McDonalds, Starbucks etc, or workplace canteens, cafeterias et al — must provide washable cutlery, plates and cups/glasses, reports the Guardian. Single-use tableware, such as paper cups, burger/sandwich/wrap cartons, paper plates and wrappers, have been banned from January 1, 2023. Environmentalists have hailed the decision as a paradigm shift. However, the new law only applies to on-site service, i.e. diners who are eating at the establishment itself. Single-use packaging can still be used for takeaways. France’s fast food restaurants generate an estimated 180,000 tonnes of waste every year, a number the new law hopes to exponentially curb.

Samsung’s AI oven is the future of food. 

CNET reports that Samsung's recently unveiled bespoke AI wall oven can warm you “if/when your food will burn” and “also includes a camera for livestreaming”. The oven’s AI Pro Cooking algorithm informs you of the appropriate time, temperature and mode for between 80-100 dishes, and sends you notifications as the cooking is in progress. A camera inside the oven allows you to monitor the process without having to make frequent trips to the kitchen — or even, if you so choose, stream the video feed to your social media handles (or to your inquisitive mom). Don’t discard your stupid camera-less oven in a hurry though: Samsung’s invention isn’t coming to India anytime soon; it is currently available only in Europe, with North America next on the launchpad. 

Okay, that’s it for today, we gotta go now! Need to check if Sharma Uncle’s nephew is still in Germany.