I felt moved to write about macaroni and cheese today, for no apparent reason :) Maybe I’m just craving it, which as you’ll read, is not unusual. Once upon a time in our childhood, my brother and I loved to play imaginative games (actually, every kind of game – and we still do). I remember the day we were trying to imagine weird things like, if we could only eat one kind of food for the rest of our lives, what would it be? Oddly enough, we both had the same answer – macaroni & cheese!
When my Mom would go out for New Year’s Eve, she would let us stay up and watch movies until she got home, and have as much of one kind of food as we wanted. You’d think we’d pick chocolate, or popcorn, or something like that. Noooo – macaroni & cheese! (I think we did have popcorn one year – but it wasn’t as good). Mac & cheese has a kind of iconic status in my life, as many times in later years I actually did have to live on it.
Later I had moved out and was living with my boyfriend in high school. We were really, really broke, having something like $5 left over after paying rent and utilities for the month. We used to buy macaroni & cheese in bulk and just eat that – back then you could get 5 boxes for a dollar, and I swear there was more in a box – seems like boxes now are pretty skimpy. He would eat one box for dinner at night and I’d eat at school, and that’s the way it was.
Then I got to college and it was pretty much the same deal. I just about lived on mac & cheese and I never got tired of it. The only problem was affording the milk and butter to make it with. We quickly determined you could make it with milk and not butter – but not the other way around (ewww). I also made a very weird version in college which was mac & cheese mixed with a can of corned beef hash, and fried. Strange and looked really, well, never mind – but tasted good and was very filling. Talk about broke college food!
Finally I emerged from poor studenthood, and amazingly enough, I still love it. Now I might make it with chopped fresh tomatoes and basil, with several kinds of freshly grated cheese and a bit of sour cream for the sauce.
Though it’s truly hard to resist the bright orange Kraft variety, childhood memories and all. Still there are other boxed choices for the discriminating diner-in-a-hurry, including new white cheddar and alfredo varieties, Safeway O (organic) versions that look and taste just like Kraft but are cheaper and better for you and the environment, and Annie’s organic varieties, of which there is even a whole grain pasta version now – not to mention the ever-wonderful psychedelic peace pasta :)
Such riches! The ultimate comfort food – I believe I’ll be eating macaroni & cheese ’til the end of my days :)