With its heavy iron body and large cavernous mouth, the old-fashioned manual meat grinder looked like it meant business.  “Now that thing can move some meat!” I mistakenly thought.

Once again I had to learn the hard way.  Good thing I was born with a talent for that.  In my own defense I will repeat my perpetual inner question:  How can you know if the new way is better if you’ve never tried it the old way? This is how I learned hanging laundry on the line is Zen, but that you should not skimp on the quality of the line, unless you want your undies brushed with strokes of green grass.

In the spirit of the savvy lifelong student, I duly clamped the clunky black “machine” to the top of the kitchen table.  I sliced the flesh and fat, loaded it into the hopper and cranked away with both hands backed by full body force.  I was exhausted within minutes, the meat was not pulling through, and the fat was globbing up the holes so thoroughly that what little meat was coming out looked like mushmeat, not mincemeat.  The task was so monstrously difficult and hopeless I could only burst out laughing.  I sweated my way through about two pounds before giving up for good, dissembling this machine that was not really a machine at all, scrubbing down all the small parts stuck with fatty meat scraps, and packing it back up in the box to send it straight into storage.

Considering machines are supposed to save you in time and/or labor, I cannot call this contraption a machine at all.  I was the machine, it was more like, a poorly-designed tool.  By contrast, the queen of kitchen machines, my new Kitchen Aid, has a grinding attachment that looked meek and delicate compared to that black iron monster.  I admit, I did not have high hopes for her.  Again I sliced up the meat and fat into strips and down the little hopper they went.  Only this time out the other end magically appeared rivulets of freshly grounded meat, a continuous effortless stream, five pounds of it in a matter of minutes.  I was dancing a jig around the kitchen  singing praises to the marvels of modern man.

The breakfast sausage patties were my first success.  Of course, with 25% pork fat, what wouldn’t taste good?   The meatloaf, on the other hand, would get a scrunched up nose reaction from the average family.   But I must say of my scores of failed recipes, this was the best failure of all.  Served on thick and crunchy freshly fried potato chips with horseradish/breadcrumb sauce.  It might look deadly, but it taste divine–all the fat bubbling to the surface, at once pungent, tangy, smooth– a bombarding contrast of tastes quickly acquired.

Next week end I graduate to sausage links, which I understand is a two-man process, even with the marvelous machine.  Hmmm, I guess we’ll see about that.