Comfort Food: Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese, an American institution in comfort food and a nostalgic dish of how I learned to cookOur five-year-old friend, Skyleigh, has been spending a lot of time at our house. When it’s time for lunch, she begs for macaroni and cheese – and by begs, I mean she chants, sings, dances, and all-around celebrates the mere possibility that mac’n cheese might be a part of her day. On those occasions, the celebration is followed by her dragging the stepstool out so she can assist in the making of her lunch. It is, indeed, an event.

All this fanfare has reminded me of my own early forays into cooking. I was always the first one up on weekend mornings. The budding artist in me woke to watch a 6 a.m. Saturday morning show instructing me in the basics of sketching. After that show, there was another 30 minutes before the other heavy cartoons were broadcast, so I’d make myself breakfast. Sometimes, breakfast was breaking out a box of macaroni and cheese. I know, probably no my Mom’s first choice of morning cuisine, yet, I was just as excited then as Skyleigh is now by the creamy, cheesy goodness. I’m not sure what it is that really draws us to that particular comfort food, yet it is widespread, indeed.

This all leads to me standing in the bulk section of the grocery store yesterday. There was a 15% off sale, so I was happily refilling all my jars and bags to restock my pantry. I rarely buy any pasta save capellini, yet I found myself drawn to the tri-colored shells with images of cheese sauce filling their little bowls. Well, once the idea was planted, I began smelling butter and cheese melting around the pasta, so I grabbed a pound of pasta and headed home.

As a result, for the first time in years, I stood before the stove making cheese sauce and cooking shell macaroni. As I did so, I remembered all those times as a kid I grabbed for a pre-packaged box, ripped the powdered sauce bag, and poured it into the hot milk. I remembered, for a stretch of time, loving the addition of ketchup. I remember another period of my childhood where I used to chop a fresh tomato into the bowl. As an adult, I eschewed the pre-packaged varieties in favor of making it from scratch wherein I’d add fresh broccoli or spinach to the pot. Ahhh… flashbacks of youth. It’s amazing how the smell and taste of food brings such a flood of memories.

So what is it about a steaming bowl of creamy macaroni and cheese that makes it the American institution it is? My husband is Chinese and was raised in Australia, and he can’t wrap his head around why I’m so excited about it. As a matter of fact, he doesn’t like it at all. He opted for the pot of chicken noodle soup I’d made earlier in the day after two bites of my comforting pasta dish. Is it because he’s Asian and just wasn’t raised with much dairy? Is it because of my European genes and their strong desire for cheese? I don’t know. Do you? Please share your ideas and stories – oh – and include what you best like to eat with your macaroni and cheese! Bacon bits? Ketchup? Chocolate chips… just kidding!

Breathe deeply,
Laugh with abandon,
Love wholly,
Eat well.

MiLady Carol
Dazzling jewelry that reflects sparkling personalities!

1 comment to Comfort Food: Macaroni and Cheese

  • Mmmm, mac ‘n’ cheeeeeese. 😀

    I like mine w/ fresh green peas, or with spinach, or with black beans, or bacon, or just plain (where “plain” pretty much always means “with extra cheese” when I’m making it). I’ve never eaten mine with ketchup, but I have used sriracha. There are *so* many ways to enjoy macaroni and cheese.

    I have a hard time conceiving of someone not liking macaroni and cheese, much less figuring out why they don’t like it. But hey–more for me!