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An Excerpt from the Upcoming Book: Piccola Meraviglia

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Welcome to Inside The Stoves by Jason Kessler. Each week Kessler will look deep within the soul of food media and come out with fake excerpts from fake books that are absolutely, positively not real. Basically, it's foodie fan fiction.

She knew the rules but she liked to break them anyway. Robots listen to two sets of rules: hardware rules and human rules. Hardware rules can’t be disobeyed. They’re hard-wired into the program and that’s that. Human rules, on the other hand, are more like suggestions. Advanced robots like her with directive recognition programs can understand human rules but they know that it’s their choice whether or not to follow them. That’s the problem with robots. They understand code as law and humans merely as functional helpers, despite the fact that humans wrote the code.

She was distinctly told not to drink the lemonade, but she’s so hard to control when she gets in a crowd. Part of her charm is that she interacts so well with humans. When her handlers were nearby, everything was fine. She wandered through the event chatting up fans and smiling for photos. She even danced with one old man, despite the fact that her dancing code usually has to be specifically programmed for individual situations. It was only when her handlers let her roam free that she got into trouble.

First, she took a sample from the Angelini Osteria booth. Tomato sauce has always been a no-no because the acidity can mess with her circuitry, but somebody told her to try it and she hates to let down her fans – despite the fact that it could seriously damage her system. Luckily, the lasagna had no ill effects. Her handlers were monitoring all systems on their portable trackers and they noticed a spike but the other systems compensated and the small but adorable robot continued along, hugging people and smiling that thousand-watt smile. She even helped a group of kids pronounce “burrata” over by the M Street Kitchen booth.

When she got out to the kids’ area in the back, though, everything went sour. Four children ran up and tried to get her to decorate a cupcake with them. Her handlers breathed easier when she politely declined. All she had to do was make it to her cooking demonstration and then they could get her home to recharge. Then a group of women approached asking for autographs. As she signed, her signature got worse and worse. The last woman’s program was signed “All my beast to yonkers. Lovers Altima, GDeL165589.” She had never made the mistake of signing her model name before. It was most likely due to the heat, although her heat sensor wasn’t registering a malfunction yet. Richards, the head handler, knew he had to get her out of there fast. And then it happened.

A little girl came up and offered the robot some lemonade. Since people were watching, she couldn’t say no even though she was specifically warned about it. So she drank it. Almost immediately, she fell to the ground. That amount of liquid in her system could easily damage the whole apparatus. She knew she should have turned it down, but she drank it anyway. And that’s the problem with GDeL165589: Giada had always been a disobedient robot.
·All Inside The Stoves Coverage [~ELA~]
— Jason Kessler

*Jason Kessler writes The Nitpicker column for BonAppetit.com as well as "Heart Attack" for FoodRepublic.com. He also writes things for television.

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