Gastronaut Blog / Stardate: August 8 / French Fry Report . . . What happened to the frites?

Bag o' Frites . . . hand-cut, Belgian Style

What Happened To The Frites ?
As many of you know by now, the rocket is no longer serving our Belgian style frites.
Why would we do this? Why would something so good and so satisfying suddenly disappear from the menu? Because we were losing money on every bag we sold. This became evident during our first Lime Rock mission during the Memorial Day Weekend races. That was a four day event where we decided not to serve frites because of the enormous amounts of attendees. The exclusion of frites speeds up service and our goal at Lime Rock, appropriately, was pure, unadulterated speed. Feed as many race fans as possible in the most efficient manner possible. We reduced the size of our burgers to slider size in order to quicken cooking time. The taco assembly process was refined. We made some investments in equipment. Slight tweaks were made to the physical layout inside the rocket. Choreography was even employed as the movements of three people in a tight space were analyzed. We achieved our goal without sacrificing any quality. The rocket was a taco and slider making machine! Without frites to store and prepare, service was lightning quick. The most surprising discovery was the consumption rate of propane during this mission. Without our two deep fryers running, the rocket was startling and preposterously fuel efficient. Those frites were costing us a fortune!

The Long Story
For those of you needing detailed answers, here’s the long story . . .
The process of preparing wonderful frites is arduous. Firstly, secure a reliable source of top quality Idaho potatoes. In this case a forty-five minute drive from Torrington. Now, scrub, cut and rinse thirty or so pounds of potatoes and let them soak a good long time in order to extract unwanted starch. Dry them and then start the initial fry of the two step cooking process. Let the partially cooked frites rest upon baking sheets lined with nicely absorbent kraft paper until an order is placed. Frites were always cooked to order, so once more, drop them in the hot peanut oil (the best and most expensive medium for frying potatoes short of duck fat). Careful, now, that oil is roiling around at three hundred seventy five degrees! Lift them from the oil and toss on paper towels in order to remove excess oil and then sprinkle with sea salt. The result is stunning, delicious, crispy frites of perfect color, texture and taste. Now do this as fast as you can while there are burgers requiring attention on the flat-top grill, grilled cheese sandwiches are browning in cast iron pans on the stove, tacos sit nakedly on the prep board awaiting freshly diced tomatoes and cabbage, and you have to restock the fridge because the Birch Beer levels are dangerously low. All of this is occurring while the deep fryers run all day . . . the biggest propane hogs aboard the rocket, using eighty percent of our gas supply. Additionally, in summertime temperatures, the fryers probably added a few degrees of heat to a cabin already hovering around ninety-five degrees.

Accounting Black Holes
Now, the rocket is not only about delicious culinary forays into the known universe. We need money in order to continue our mission. As they said in the movie The Right Stuff, “No bucks, no Buck Rogers.” With so much time and resources going to this one menu item, it had better be a profit leader. This was hardly the case in the cold reality of accounting. The actual price of a bag of our frites would be very expensive and not within our desires in regard to price points upon our menu. Throughout the inner circle of command aboard the rocket, this discovery sent ripples of anxiety. Can we take the frites off the menu? Will there be a revolt? Will we crash and burn? The Frites were a good friend. People loved our Frites and we were really proud to serve them. But they compromised the overall success of the rocket and its very existence. Finally we just said, “Frack it, put ’em in the airlock.”

Within the food industry, you will read about the huge profits to be made with deep fryers. This is true if you are using cheap frying mediums full of chemicals and pouring into your fryers an array of cheap, low quality, frozen, highly processed shit otherwise known as nuggets, sticks, curly fries, or various other disgusting incarnations attractive only to those who view food preparation as a simple equation. One which yields profit at the loss of integrity. You have higher expectations of the rocket and we will never let you down.

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