I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!
March 12, 2017
During an internal university class I hosted last year on design thinking, we talked about the idea of Functional Fixedness. During the hands-on portion of the class, I had participants create a prototype for a "communication device" using Cheerio's, a hammer, cotton balls, tape, and a few other odd ingredients. It's become a running joke with a few colleagues that took the course that we had to look at the hammer, for example, as a not-a-hammer. What else could it be? This stems from Daniel Pink, author of Drive, and his "candle problem" he discussed in a Ted Talk called The Puzzle of Motivation.
Wikipedia describes functional fixedness as a "cognitive bias that limits a person to using an object only in the way it is traditionally used."
Tell that to Ariel and she still would NOT believe you that a fork was not a comb.
Isn't that the case with a lot of things we look at. A child, given a cardboard box, is able to see a rocket ship, submarine, or the makings of an arcade game (Google Caine's Arcade).
One of my favorite Chicago West Loop spots for food is Little Goat Diner by Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard. For dinner I ordered the chap chae goat burger with the enticing excitement of sinking my teeth into a delicious combination of bread and meat.
To my surprise, this is what arrived:
I know usually that commercial reminds us to exclaim, "Where's the beef!?" but honestly all I kept wondering was "Where's the bun!?". I looked bewildered at our waiter, and asked him more than once if this order was for sure the burger. I was sitting next to my friend who ordered off of the vegan menu, and even though I know vegans can eat bread I kept asking if he brought me the right order. I ordered a burger, and to my eyes, this was not a burger.
Burger or not, I was hungry, and if I was going to eat a not-a-burger from anyone, it would be from a chef I would trust to taste anything from. Layered atop of the tender patty of goat was a mixture of Asian flavored glass noodles and veggies with a sunny side up egg and a drizzle of umami mayo. Bite after bite, the sweet spices erupted into my palate. It was a beautiful mess, the order that you don't choose on a first date, with all its yummy egg yolk and sauce dripping from the fork and slurp worthy noodles. Had there been a bun, there was no way I could see being able to experience the combined ingredients together in each bite.
Whatever I considered to be a burger before will have to take a back seat to any of the ones presented on a menu from chef Izard. I should have known that she would throw a twist on an old diner staple, and her menu seems to be one that I would happily play the guessing game at again in the future.