A moment of silence for another machine

Dear Feastlings,

The story of John Henry captured my imagination as a child.  A man who beat a powerful machine, only to have his heart burst, had that Venn diagram of triumph and tragedy that makes for an indelible stamp on one’s young brain.  Now, though, I find myself comparing humans to machines in a handful of different ways- more than once have I looked wistfully at the stories about restaurant robots, whose reliability far outshines the post-pandemic work ideology of humans, and to a more personal point, I compare the longevity and integrity of what machinery I work with to my own flagging, middle-aged body.  That grinding gear noise that the mixer makes also show up in my knee, and I long for a reset button for my lumbar region that works as well as the one on the industrial food processor we use every day.

I don’t know what sort of equipment other professions needs for their operations- I imagine the medical and dental communities require no small amount of gadgetry, and anyone in the trades will have to have some expensive pieces of equipment to purchase or rent if they’re going to accomplish much, but I’d put restaurants up there as well. Over the years, we’ve watched arrive an depart an assortment of refrigerators, ovens and ranges, steamers and blenders, and other smallwares too numerous to bother enumerating here.

This week, another ice cream maker shuffled off its mortal coil, so we’ll be without ice cream until next week when the new one arrives. I think back to the early years, when we made such meager quantities of ice cream that we could handle it with a little home ice cream maker packed with ice and rock salt, which admittedly had to be replaced a few times a year due to the wear and tear factor- I believe those machines are manufactured with the understanding that they’ll be used once and left to gather dust in a garage or a storage locker until the next generation discovers it, puts it in a landfill and goes out to buy a new one to relive the glory of the one time the family made ice cream and bickered less than usual.

Our current situation is different, but we’re still on the low end of the scale- a couple of liters at a time will do the trick, which is good, because as I priced machines, I noted that our has been hovering around the $1300 range for several years now, while I could very well invest in a $50,000 machine with a few extra bells and whistles. So I feel lucky that we can knock out what ice cream is demanded of us for 3% of what we COULD be spending, though in fairness, it apparently requires replacement every year of two. Ah, planned obsolescence. I assume.

Whatever our ice cream situation, you’ll soon hear the singsong melody of the figurative Feast ice cream truck hurdy-gurdying through the dining room to drop off curious flavors that you can’t get in your grocer’s freezer by this time next week.

In the meantime, you’ll need to find your sugar elsewhere. Fortunately, we had enough Guinness Stout that there’ll be Guinness chocolate cake for another day or two, and the have those cartoonishly large brown butter triple chocolate chip cookies awaiting your bellies, and the rest of the dessert menu as well. You can also absorb your sugar through wine if you choose- our buddy Madison will be down from Phoenix with an assortment of Sicilian wines, and you’re welcome and encouraged to come join us to taste them-


I should also mention, while I have your attention, that we’re going to open on another Sunday- not all Sundays, mind you, as I’m still not happy with the current roster of kitchen staff in terms of being able to staff another day without going into panic mode every time someone gets the sniffles. But we’ll be here on Easter, offering this menu alongside our regular menu,

Easter at Feast

and by then, the Easter Bunny should have ice cream in the basket as well. Assuming all’s well with the new machine.  At the risk of offending those who don’t separate the art from the artist, I offer you a link to what I regard as an entertaining story of the human-machine conundrum.

Thanks, Everyone.

Your pal Doug

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