When the recipes are created by a machine | The weekly country

A grandmother serves homemade food to her guests.
A grandmother serves homemade food to her guests.Ilker Gurer (Gallery Stock)

Antonia, one of the grandmothers of the fabada in television commercials, was neither a grandmother, nor was she Asturian and, according to what they say, she did not know how to prepare fabada either. But that industry of plausible truths that is advertising convinced us that that older woman, with the headscarf, embodied the perfect granny. The unappealable context created by the rural house, the smoke from the chimney, the chickens running around or the clothing and naive attitude of the locals concealed the lie that the elders told the hikers, enthusiastic about some canned vegetables, believing that it was a homemade stew. Without a doubt, the grandparents of the spotin an exemplary performance of mentalization, manage to interpret the wishes of some visitors who are on the hunt for the authentic and give it to them… in their own way.

The theory of mind, in psychology, is the ability to read what the person in front of us is thinking, considering that they have the same cognitive faculties as us even when they express different thoughts, beliefs and emotions. But what happens in our mind when what we have before us is as indeterminate as a God? As the Israeli historian and writer Yuval Noah Harari considers in Sapiens. From animals to gods: “There are no gods in the universe, there are no nations, there is no money, no human rights, no laws, no justice outside the common imagination of human beings.” However, accepting that certain ideas remain exclusively in the collective imagination, there are brains that perceive them as real.

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A study carried out on a group of Christian believers by the researcher Uffe Schjødt, from the University of Aarhus (Denmark), showed that when they spoke with God the same areas of the brain were activated that are stimulated when one person speaks with another. In contrast, the MRI scans revealed that when the volunteers were asked to make a mental request for gifts to Santa Claus, these areas remained inactive. In other words, we do not perceive the dialogue with a peer in the same way as with a virtual entity, such as a video game character, because reciprocity is not expected from an inanimate being and, therefore, it is not necessary to know its intentions.

The question that arises is whether this disconnection or disaffection with inanimate technology will be maintained during the subjective experience of the value that is assigned to a work of authorship, be it a plate, score, text or design, created by an artificial intelligence. Computer programs exist or are being worked on capable of replicating certain traits of creative behavior aimed at writing novels and poems, painting a canvas or composing in the style of Chopin. In the not too distant future it will be possible to design recipes or culinary experiences by replicating procedures, applying probabilities or taking advantage of gaps between areas of knowledge. We are coming to computational creativity conceived as a creative entity in itself, and not so much as a tool to assist human innovative activity. When the time comes, it will be necessary to see how the outcome of an artificially generated conceptualization process is judged and felt in relation to another produced by a human. If it would make sense to go to know the proposal of a restaurant knowing that the author is a software.

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From an objective point of view, many tasks related to production fell into the hands of the industry a long time ago and we naturally admit countless industrialized foods. But the intersubjective experience in front of a work, until now at least, more than the result, took into account the processes, the experience and the motivations of the creator. Today it is still attractive to think that the bean stew has been cooked by a grandmother. At this point, one might think that the fine line that separates the virtual from the human is the one that separates the synthetic from the artisanal, despite the fact that today they complement each other and go hand in hand in many areas of life. The big problem is not that, but the way in which our beliefs and thoughts are conducted in a world where realities are artificially manufactured. The moment when critical awareness goes out of focus or, worse yet, falls asleep.

Potato and herb stew

Ingredients (for four persons)

For the potatoes:

4 medium potatoes.

For the herb stew:

80 grams of bacon.

2 cloves of garlic.

20 milliliters of sunflower oil.

Wild and cultivated herbs.

50 milliliters of meat broth.

nutritional contribution

The potato provides about 80 kilocalories per 100 grams of edible portion. It contains a moderate amount of iron, but the high content of vitamin C promotes the absorption of this mineral. In addition, this tuber has vitamins B1, B3 and B6, and other minerals such as potassium, phosphorus and magnesium, as well as folate, pantothenic acid and riboflavin.

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The potatoes:

Cook the potatoes in water with a little salt. Keep them in a very soft boil so that they do not collide with each other and break.

When the potato is cooked, remove from the water and cut in half lengthwise.

With the help of a spoon, remove part of the potato pulp. Place in an oven at 150 degrees for 30 minutes or until the potato turns crispy on the outside.

The herb stew:

In a frying pan from cold to medium heat, fry the bacon cut into lardons. When toasted, remove on absorbent paper.

On the other hand, chop the garlic very small. Place it in a saucepan, cover it with the oil and put it over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it turns golden, remove and add the herbs, previously washed and cut, stirring. Combine the lardons, herbs and broth before serving.

Finish and presentation

Carefully arrange the herb stew on the hot half-potatoes and serve. Eat with your hands if possible.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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