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Why a Data Scientist Manufactures his own Beverages

This is not an article about data science. But it shows the power of analytic and out-of-the-box thinking, combined with reverse engineering to identify the components of a mix, to eventually create a much improved product. These are skills that differentiate us data scientists from the "average" person. There are a few interesting things to learn from this experiment.

The plastic bag contains celery seed powder, purchased on Amazon

So, here's what our staff data scientist shared with us today:

I have been looking for a long time for sugar-free beverages (other than wine) that you can sip slowly, and could not find any. Coffee and tea don't work well with me. Tomato juice was a great candidate, but V8 contains so much salt that it is worse than wine.

Eventually, after a Google search, I found salt-free tomato juice that I purchase directly from a farm (available on Amazon), I add a bit of tomato paste to it to make it thicker, a bit of potassium chloride (it tastes like salt but it's not salt; it's good against high blood pressure), curry powder or cloves powder or smoked paprika, celery seed powder (it adds a great vegetable taste just like V8), some ground black pepper or Tabasco; I serve it chilled, and I sip it in a nice tiny glass with a tiny elegant spoon. The clove powder acts like Worcestershire sauce without tasting like vinegar.

You can add spices at any time or dilute it as you drink it, to achieve the perfect balance. Sometimes, I am in the mood for paprika, sometimes for curry, sometimes for a very spicy version. It makes for a fantastic, rich experience that beats wine sipping by a long stretch. And it is far tastier than V8, and of course, fresh. But you need the right ingredients: not all powdered curry brands are created equal. And tomato paste adds a bit of sugar, but natural sugar, not added sugar (this is especially true with high-end Italian brands). Basil and other herbs could enhance this beverage.

No kitchenware, no cooking is required: just blending and stirring the ingredients with a spoon, in a glass, like you would do for a cocktail. All the ingredients can be found and ordered on Amazon. The main ingredient (salt-free tomato juice) is produced in US. This beverage is also a great substitute for Bloody Mary. Clinical trials could be performed to see if it could stop some forms of alcoholism, immediately, and at no cost.

It could also lead to an interesting start-up: opening tomato juice bars that serve this recipe, or a spice bar if the client customizes her own drink. It needs to be served fresh though, right after the potassium chloride dissolves, so unfortunately, I don't think it can be sold in bottles in grocery stores. But even the basic version (raw salt-free tomato juice with either curry or celery seed powder) is a fantastic improvement over the vast majority of beverages that you can find in a grocery store. And it might be easier to manufacture on an industrial scale, than the version that involves all the ingredients. 

Finally, three metrics are associated with the ingredients: potency, spiciness, and flavor intensity (or aromaticity). Potency determines concentration. Clove and celery seed powder are the most potent. Indeed, you could make V8 (supposedly made up of 8 vegetables) with just tomato juice and a tiny bit of celery seed powder, and produce the same taste. Spiciness determines how hot an ingredient is, Tabasco and peppercorn being the hottest here. Aromaticity determines the strength of the flavor, with curry powder being the winner here. Some ingredients such as ground black pepper or potassium chloride mix well with all others, while cloves, paprika, and curry powder don't bond that well.

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Here's another of my recipes: black spaghetti (traditional Italian spaghetti died with skid ink,served with  aglio e olio sauce), and topped with powdered curry. I've never seen this dish in any Indian, Italian, or upscale restaurant. Note how the yellow curry color goes well with the black spaghetti color. It would not be appealing with white pasta.


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