Just Breathe: Eating And Drinking Of The Future

on Monday, Feb. 7th

When you eat, say a piece of bread, you swallow approximately 70 percent of it without tasting it, according to Professor David Edwards of Harvard University.  He is the inventor of a device that allows you to taste 100 percent of your food and drink- by breathing it.

Le Whif and Le Whaf – for food and drink respectively, allow one to breathe in droplets of either food or drink through a glass straw.  Edwards describes the process of whaffing in a nutshell: “Le Whaf generates a cloud of liquid droplets from your favorite drink. It does this by generating ultrasound waves with little vibrating crystals and these waves cause bubbling in the liquid and produce the droplets. The droplets go up in the air and fall back down. The little droplets hang in the air for quite a while, and create the cloud. The cloud appears like a fluid itself. The droplets in the glass will fall out over a minute, if you don’t ‘whaff’ them into your mouth. You ‘whaff’ with a special straw that brings the droplet into your mouth as you sip.”

So will this contraption replace food? Probably not, but it might be useful for tasting without tipping the scale.  While Edwards sees Le Whaf / Le Whif as an “amuse bouche,” he also believes that these inventions will be appealing because of the low calorie intake. The flavors of the food and drink that you inhale are  powerful, but the caloric and alcoholic intake are small.

“When you whaff say a whiskey, while it is truly whiskey in the air, you do not receive much alcohol in your system. You should be clear that we are not ‘vaporizing’ liquids, which is a popular way to get a strong buzz from alcohol. With Le Whaf there is much less alcohol in the air,” said Edwards.

“[Le Whaf] is better understood as a complement to normal eating and drinking, great for a cocktail, or for an amuse bouche, or for a party, or to accompany a meal,” explained Edwards. He hopes people will use Le Whaf,  “To enjoy rich foods without calories, to get vitamins and supplements in a pleasurable way, to enjoy natural foods in very little ‘bites’ that allow us to enjoy a much vaster realm of flavor and cuisine than imagined before.”  In addition, he says it could be useful for getting nutrients into your body faster.

Edwards and team are still in the process of manufacturing the device for sale, but he expects the users of Le Whaf and Le Whif will be young.  “The fork, when it came into France in the 17th century, was a scandal. The experimenters in society are a few, they tend to be young, and it’s fair to assume that those most willing and interested to embrace Le Whaf will be young.”

Corey McCall with the video game controller that measures the level of excitement in the player. Linda A. Cicero / Stanford News Service

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