Flavorful World’s Friday Fourplay offers up a bite-sized tidbit of info on each of the four food- and drink-related things we found most interesting each week.
Mexico’s Powdered Water
Mexican chemical engineer Sergio Jésus Rico Velasco is the inventor of Solid Rain, a highly absorbent polymer (potassium polyacrylate) that absorbs water up to 500 times its original size. This property makes it an attractive, potentially world-changing boon to agricultural communities in drought-afflicted regions of the world. The product works by absorbing water and converting into a thick, translucent gel that retains the absorbed water for up to a year without it evaporating or running off into soil, or going anywhere else until it gets consumed by a plant’s roots. A comparison study between farm plots that used Solid Rain and ones that didn’t revealed that farm plots using the product showed up to 300 percent increases in crop yield. And while a phrase like “powdered water” may still invite infantile humor (a la “Powdered water? Huh. What do you add to it in order for it to work?”), I hope Solid Rain’s implications for farming in arid geographic locales helps its usage to spread far and wide.
Via Modern Farmer
A onetime medicinal agent and a great source of iron, Date Syrup is finding new life as an alternative sweetener, aided by the efforts of Colleen Sundlie, a.k.a. the “Date Lady.” Selling for about $8 USD per 12-oz. bottle, the syrup is produced from organic Deglet Noor dates, concentrates caramelized flavor notes of raisins and sherry, and is said to function well as a substitute ingredient in recipes calling for sugar or honey.
Via Tasting Table
The RAIL Restaurant Bill and Tip Splitter
Washington-based startup Viableware recently released The RAIL, a device developed to help restaurant patrons calculate their bill and tip. Allowing one’s credit card to remain in one’s possession for the duration of a meal (rather than giving it to a server for processing), speedy swipe-and-go transactions, and reducing the amount of time a server must spend away from customers are but a few touted benefit of using the tablet device that would run an eatery about $200 USD. Customizable to a patron’s visit frequency/expenditures, the RAIL can even be used to promote customer loyalty programs or share recipes with guests. Not bad bonuses for having the burden of figuring out large-group bills and appropriate server gratuities lifted from one’s shoulders.
Bastille Day Dining in Paris
This Sunday, July 14th, is the French national holiday, Fête de la Fédération (otherwise known as Bastille Day in English-speaking countries.) It commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison in 1789, an act of open rebellion against the monarchy that is considered the flashpoint of the French Revolution, and widely recognized as the beginning of the modern republic. Given the country’s historic and monumental influence on the way we eat and drink, one can only imagine the abundance of good food and libations to be enjoyed there this weekend. Condé Nast Traveller has graciously assembled a list of the best places in Paris to mangez bien when you’re partying in a country whose contributions to the world of fine cuisine cannot be overstated.