Handsome Work

I’ve been thinking about spaghetti sauce a lot lately. I grew up in a very busy household with parents who didn’t have a lot of time to cook, so the sauce on our noodles was always of the canned variety. Not knowing the different between canned and fresh, we kids slurped it right up—the soggy vegetables, the sugared tomato sauce. It wasn’t until I went to college and started cooking for myself that I discovered how good fresh, homemade spaghetti sauce can be. I avoided the misexperience of canned sauce again until a few weeks ago, when my roommate offered to share some of his lunch with me. I had to push it away after one bite, so unwilling was I to waste taste buds and calories on such slop. It made me wonder: Why have Americans allowed themselves to become so busy that they traded in Mom’s delicious, homemade sauce for something that is judged solely on how thick it is on TV? Isn’t that aiming a little bit low? I mean, I understand economies of scale, agribusiness, convenience, and all that. But really, there is no substitute for homemade quality, and no excuse for its demise.

Our economy thrives on the masses: mass markets of mass-produced goods changing hands in mass purchases. This is necessary, of course, and not altogether evil. It’s hard to make it as an artisan these days, and those who are making it are working their tails off just to belong to an entry-level tax bracket. Have we gotten so sensitive to price, and so insensitive to quality, that true artisans are an endangered species? Maybe. But I always look for the exceptions that prove the rule.

Next: A real tailor…

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