What my father’s recipe for pasta marinara says concerning the way forward for capitalism
As the daughter of a Neapolitan, I grew up eating pasta with marinara sauce. My father didn’t always make it from scratch, but he did so often enough for me to follow his recipe through memories. Fresh tomatoes weren’t always available, but we canned them so we had the bottom for the red sauce all year.
The name “marinara” means “mariner’s sauce.” There’s some debate as to if the sauce got its start with Spanish or Neapolitan sailors’ wives. Since Spain owned Naples in the course of the key years (the primary recorded recipe book containing the sauce, written in Naples, is dated 1692), this is a meaningless debate. The key is that early on, the healing aspects of tomatoes were discovered, and sailors used the sauce to cure and forestall scurvy.
Tomatoes originated within the New World, and while they probably came from Peru, they were grown a minimum of as far north as Mexico by the point the Spanish sailed. Because the fruit might be dried and was acidic enough to stick preserved, it is usually carried long distances. The mariners who carried it might survive at sea without fresh vegetables.
But in the future in history, humankind perceived to stop noticing the relationship between the advantages of what we eat and our health. We moved clear of herbal remedies toward pills and gadgets. A stiff neck was now not treated with a warm hand towel wrapped firmly around our neck and fastened with a child diaper pin. Muscle relaxants became the cure of first resort. I’ve had friends suffer a torn meniscus and feature knee surgery, but some of these injuries used to heal with time and quadriceps exercises.
I admit to admiration for Luddites, but IT’S NOT THAT I AM one. I enjoy modern comforts. Still, I CAN’T help but ponder whether we’re getting less after we modernize. The stories within the press back me up. It seems that ladies of a definite age who take calcium tablets don’t benefit up to women who depend on diet to satisfy that need. Milk does it better.
I recently read Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food, during which he advises us to eat “real” food. I needed to laugh after I read that. I remembered my mother scooping something called “Cool Whip” onto some heated pears for dessert. My father leapt to his feet. “What are you doing? Are you feeding our kids plastic?” It wasn’t plastic, nevertheless it also wasn’t exactly whipped cream. In 2007, Patrick Di Justo wrote in a Wired magazine article entitled “Cool Whip” that it’s mostly water and air, even though it costs twice up to homemade whipped cream.
Old-fashioned food is cheaper and higher for you. Eating a garlic clove whilst you begin to feel sick isn’t nearly as expensive as cold pills; gargling with warm salt water actually feels pretty good (I admit, eating garlic doesn’t) and does relieve most sore throats… but where’s the profit?
How many ancient wisdoms have we let fall aside because they were more trouble and no more entertaining than being a patient and getting a pill? My mom boiled water to clear her sinuses. I don’t know; maybe pills do a greater job, but they cost so much and can do a little damage, too.
My father took my temperature by touching his forehead to mine. If mine felt hot to him, I had a temperature. Then came the mercury thermometer. Probably the worst a part of that was uncovered in 2001 when 7.4 lots of mercury-contaminated glass from a thermometer factory was found to be polluting the realm watershed after having been dumped unprotected. Unilever eventually paid a fine, closed the factory and cleaned up the mess. A minimum of thermometers aren’t made from mercury anymore. Mercury thermometers was banned in many of the world.
When I USED TO BE upset, I USED TO BE given hot milk. When it was hot out, I sat with my feet in a bucket of ice water. Sleeping pills weren’t even considered. Oh, and generating electricity to chill homes and retail spaces ultimately implies that power companies, which usually burn fossil fuels, burn more. This results in greenhouse gases, higher global temperatures and more air-conditioning.
One of the worries I’VE with the miracles of capitalism is that it has run over the miracles of nature. Corporate profits lie behind much of the erosion of land and the poisoning of air and water. Responsible investors use a battery of approaches to polish light on these issues. But allow us to even be mindful of what we will be able to do to maintain alive the wisdom of prior generations and never fall prey to the promoting myth of ever newer and “better” products.
Issue: September 2011