Progress. A forward or onward movement. Merriam-Webster.
But sometimes progress can mean taking steps back.
Last night, I decided I would make a simple dinner, spaghetti, a meal my husband used to make for himself quite frequently when we were apart. Boil water. Add pasta. Open jar of sauce. Dump on top. Easy right?
Spaghetti is rather easy to find here in Ankara, and thankfully, so is the Barilla brand. I find the Turkish brands to be very bland and I don’t like the texture.
Sauce is a different story. It can be found. But it’s about half the size of the jar in the U.S., and probably twice the price. So we don’t buy it. Last night, I found myself making sauce from scratch. I added some onion, garlic, red pepper, classic Italian spices, etc. It was good, but I needed more.
Meatballs. I needed meatballs. I called my husband, who was on his way home from a quick run after work. He stopped at the grocer for the ground beef. In the meantime, I prepared the filler – more Italian spices, egg, parmesan cheese, and bread crumbs. Luckily, I had bread crumbs on hand. While they can be found here, it’s not so common. I actually make my own – just like Mom always did. I dump some day-old bread, left out to dry, into a food processor. Then I put it into a baggie in the freezer. Always ready to use. Baked the meatballs and the meal was ready. (Yes, I made a nice garlic herb bread and salad too!)
As I finished preparing the meal, I thought of a former neighbor from Wilmington, Delaware. She used to pride herself on her homemade sauce and meatballs. She would take the dish to parties everywhere. One day, she had a party to go to, but she had drank a bit too much the night before. She was in no shape to make her famous dish. I tried to convince her that Classico made an awesome jar of sauce. That’s what I always used since back in West Chester. (By the way, sauce is known as “gravy” by the Italians in Philadelphia). I also told her about the butcher in the neighborhood who sold frozen meatballs – really cheaply – and that they were delicious too!
She didn’t believe me. She thought she would never be able to explain the difference to me, because alas, I am not Italian. But her hangover gave in and I picked up the meatballs and sauce for her. She threw it together in a crock pot. She said she had never in her life had so many compliments on her meatballs and sauce!
I love to cook, but when it comes to a quick simple meal, frozen meatballs, boxed spaghetti, and jarred sauce is the way to go for me. That was progress, finding a sauce that I liked from a jar! Now, progress is taking a step back, having to make it from scratch, and doing so successfully.
My husband, still sweaty from his run, was ready to eat! I took one look at him and there was true progress! He was wearing an IPOD, a GPS watch so he could tell not only time, but also where he was going and where he had been. He wore a rubber strap around his chest to monitor his heart rate. He had a little gadget attached to his left side to measure his blood glucose and and a pump on his right to distribute insulin. My husband was more charged than a lightening bolt!
Centuries ago, my husband would have been humming a tune instead of listening to an IPOD. He would have looked to the sun to tell time, and to the river for where he was going. He would have searched through his memories to know where he had been. If he wanted to check his heart rate, a hand to his heart would have told the count.
The only method to check his blood glucose would be to prick his finger to see how the blood tasted. Of course that wouldn’t have worked. And sadly, there would have been no way to get insulin.
Progress. Usually it’s a step forward, but sometimes it’s a step back.