Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Mac and Cheese: One of life's simple pleasures

Photo credit: dalboz17

Macaroni and cheese is like the gateway drug into the world of pasta. Think about it. Most people fall in love with this savory dish as children long before they're really aware of what pasta is, and it's when they get older that their palates begin to develop a taste for more sophisticated fare such as fettucine alfredo, gnocci, and spaghetti bolognese. But that's not to say that mac and cheese is the Plain Jane of pasta dishes; the simple amalgamation of noodles and cheese can be utterly divine and oftentimes all you really need, which explains why macaroni and cheese is often thought of as comfort food. Here's the skinny on the classic dish:

• It has been rumored that President Thomas Jefferson created the dish that we today know as macaroni and cheese after he designed a macaroni machine. Jefferson biographer Jack MacLaughlin refutes this claim, stating that Jefferson merely duplicated a recipe he had enjoyed while in France. While it's hard to determine just how mac and cheese originated, this Jefferson story seems to be the most popular explanation.

• There's a restaurant in Manhattan's East Village named S'MAC that serves nothing but macaroni and cheese. Yes, they do deliver.

• Kraft Macaroni & Cheese was first introduced in 1937, and its popularity at the time can partially be attributed to the rationing of milk and dairy during World War II. Kraft says that now they sell over one million boxes a day!

• There's a Mac and Cheese Love Flickr group! Talk about your food porn.

• Like with a lot of things, there's a science to making good mac and cheese. I'll let my man Alton Brown of Good Eats explain how to go about it.

Here's Part 2 of the episode.


Anonymous said...

NOM NOM NOM. Mac & cheese remains one of my all-time favorite dishes. Since my sense of smell is about 50% below average, my sense of taste is equally compromised. But somehow, despite its blandness, mac & cheese has always been delicious to my tastebuds.

If that rumor is true, one more reason to love Thomas Jefferson!

Also: Alton Brown! He is my favorite foodie geek, and Good Eats remains hilarious and informative entertainment. Props to you for posting that episode!

Dana McCauley said...

Double Mac and Cheese is one of my most requested recipes especially in winter. I think it is one of the most universally loved foods ever!

Mae Travels said...

Lots of cheese-ful Renaissance pastas probably are predecessors of the Kraft variety and its more recent antecedents. They liked it sweet, which is also good. Mona Lisa didn't have tomato sauce, but maybe she ate something close to this.

Mona Lisa Collector and Poster:

KC said...

Now I'm hungry...I love mac & cheese, especially when it's home made...