Now Listen, Sugar

, , , , , | Related | January 31, 2018

(My mom can cook fairly well if she has clear directions that she understands fully. When that’s not the case, she doesn’t have the common sense to realize something isn’t right. For example, she was once using a recipe that was supposed to call for “2-3 cloves of garlic,” but instead called for “23 cloves of garlic,” due to a typo. She added all 23. At no point during peeling or mincing them did she wonder why the recipe needed so much garlic, or why it had to be exactly 23. A while ago, I mentioned in passing that I added a little sugar to some tomato sauce I was making out of some very acidic tomatoes from my garden. I thought nothing of the comment at the time. Now, I go over to my parents’ house, and I smell something cooking.)

Me: “That smells good. What are you making?”

Mom: “Some homemade tomato sauce, like you made a few weeks ago, only I didn’t have enough tomatoes, so I started with tomato sauce from a jar. I just added a bunch of stuff to make it my own.”

Me: “Hmm, what did you add?”

Mom: “[List of ingredients]… Oh, and sugar.”

Me: “Sugar? But if you started from a jar, it shouldn’t need that.”

Mom: “Oops. Now I know for next time. Why don’t you try some? Your father was just about to sit down and eat, but he got a very important phone call and had to take it upstairs.”

Me: “Sure. Thanks, Mom.”

(I take a plate of the vegetable and pasta dish my mom’s made and try a bite. It’s sickeningly sweet. Imagine the sauce as lumpy, tomato-flavored Kool-Aid.)

Me: *after forcing myself to swallow one bite* “Uh, Mom? How much sugar did you add?”

Mom: “About a cup. I thought that should be enough.”

Me: “It really didn’t need that.”

Mom: “But you said to add sugar!”

Me: *with dawning horror* “I did say that, didn’t I?”

Mom: “Oh, come on. It can’t be that bad.”

Me: “Have you tried it?”

(She hadn’t, so she took a bite. She spat it out in the sink. We ended up rinsing all the sauce off the pasta and vegetables and using sauce from a jar, instead. My dad, who was hiding upstairs in hope that someone else would tell my mom how awful the sauce was, only came downstairs once all the sauce was thrown out.)

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