July 22, 2020
Mom made bolognese sauce today. It wasn’t her usual sauce. Mom’s usual recipe is from a woman named Ruth. And the entire family loves this recipe. It uses spicy Italian sausages and canned Roma tomatoes from a place called San Marzano. It’s spicy and it’s tasty. Mom has been using this recipe for a while now. So today mom decided she wanted to broaden the horizon. She came across a different kind of bolognese sauce recipe. It’s by a woman named Marcella.
The recipe called for white wine, but mom wanted to know what replacements could take the place of white wine. She asked google and google told her that apple cider vinegar could easily and readily be used in place of white wine. In the same quantity. Just swap it out, and presto, all is well.
But mom wanted more data. So she tried to dig in deeper about quantity relationships, as well as apple cider vinegar’s relationship to milk in the cooking process. Because this particular recipe called for milk. Mom was a bit worried about vinegar and milk together because she knew something about curdling. Not cuddling, but curdling which sounds very unpleasant.
But mom couldn’t find more information. So she moved forward with the recipe.
When it came time to add the apple cider vinegar, mom hesitated and just poured half the amount called for. But then she realized that from this point onward there is a four hour commitment to the “laziest of simmers”. If mom only put half the amount called for, four hours would be wasted. And then what. But mom still wasn’t sure.
Mom had to make a decision: go with her gut instinct and reduce the amount of vinegar or trust in google. And mom said to herself, “you don’t know EVERYTHING Yoon Soo. Sometimes you have to just trust the information in front of you. You don’t know EVERYTHING.”
So mom swapped out the same amount of the white wine called for in the recipe and poured in apple cider vinegar into the bubbling pot. Two cups of apple cider vinegar.
Two cups of vinegar.
As you might imagine it didn’t go as expected. The entire house started to smell like vinegar. Not unlike when mom is making one of her balsamic vinegar reductions.
With one hour of “laziest of simmers” left, mom tried everything in her powers. More sweetness. More salt. More fat in the form of butter and olive oil. More salt. Hey, how about a bit of soy sauce? Can’t hurt right? In it went. How she struggled. Over the stove, a cauldron of bubbling bolognese sauce. The sharp zing stinging here eyes. It looked good. But it was the most zingy, tangy, tart bolognese sauce that was ever created. You could smell it from five feet away.
Jungmin and Dad finished their portions. That’s love. Dad even had seconds. That is true love.
Mom doesn’t fail often, but when she does, it’s epic.
Two cups of apple cider vinegar.
Dad comes up to mom and whispers, “next time a recipe calls for white wine, I’ll go fetch it for you honey. Anytime. Thank you for cooking on such a hot day.” Jungmin shouts out, “Thank you for cooking Umma!”
Mom’s entire being smells of vinegar, but she feels blessed this evening.