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StrangeSights: Winter swimming for “walruses”; and, robot cooking…


DAVID ADAMS provides a round-up of some stories on the odder side of life…


PICTURE: Video screenshot/Reuters

• Nearly 9,000 people took part in the 20th International Winter Swimming Rally in Mielno last Sunday, in north-western Poland. Participants, nicknamed “walruses” in Poland, braved the two degree water temperature of the Baltic Sea, with air temperatures around five degrees Celsius. The practice of winter swimming, or “morsowanie” in Polish, is a long-standing tradition in the country, with people immersing themselves in cold water to improve their health and boost their immunity. The participants, some of them wearing eccentric costumes, entered the water for a swim, then danced and celebrated by the beach.  The event, which has been organised in Mielno since 2004, was attended by people from several European countries, including Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Scotland, Czechia, Slovakia, and Hungary, town Mayor Olga Roszak-Pezala said. The event included a colourful parade through the streets of Mielno and also featured a jacuzzi zone, saunas, and fitness classes. The event gathered 8,893 participants, called “walruses”, beating last year’s attendance numbers. While attendance was the highest in 2023, no Guinness World Record for a winter swimming rally was recorded. – Reuters TV


Croatia - robot

PICTURE: Video screenshot/Reuters

Craving gnocchi with lamb, black risotto or zucchini pasta, but want it fast? You can order any of them at a Croatian restaurant where a robotic chef is able to rustle up about 70 different one-pot meals. Its owners say they believe the BOTS&POTS Sci-Food bistro in Zagreb is the world’s only restaurant where ready-to-eat meals in a pot are made by robotic cookers with no human involvement other than loading the devices with fresh ingredients. The devices add oil and seasoning according to digital recipes made by a human chef. “The challenge was really to make a finished dish from raw food in as few minutes as possible, and to make it as tasty as possible,” restaurant co-owner Hrvoje Bujas told Reuters in the high-tech bistro. The robotic chef called GammaChef is “taught” digitally how to cook a meal by the restaurant’s head chef, and can then remember it and repeats it endlessly. Five robot cookers can each produce four meals in 15 minutes or nearly 100 meals in an hour, Bujas said. It took seven years for Bujas’ partners to turn an idea into reality and open the restaurant last year, after investing over €1 million. Bujas said he considers expanding the business model via franchises, explaining that the robot speeds up the cooking process and saves money at a time of staff shortages. “A robot like this would cost you €10,000 if we were to sell it…That is the equivalent of maybe two salaries of a good chef,” Bujas said. “Imagine that you are watching Gordon Ramsay or Jamie Oliver cook something, and now you are trying it for the first time – in real time, the robot can really do what the chef does.” – Reuters TV




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