As contemporary in its appeal of the flavours as it is classic a recipe in indulgence, the greater human love for mac and cheese is one undisputed reality of the world. The draw is one pretty obvious as well- one of the world’s most fancied foods paired with the equally popular and even accentuated distinction of what is one of the more ancient foods, this is a combination specifically curated indeed higher up the echelons of the gastronomic heaven. Irresistible in its golden, gooey dazzle of copiously spread goodness of taste is this traditionally effortful and currently convenient but favorite forever description in relishing this dish rested indeed in some crucial play of the food sciences.
Mac and cheese is comfort food to the core but that of course isn’t the only fore of its working. The dish might be occurring as particularly ‘therapeutic’ when we are feeling low and crave therefore for that high of a feel good chowing down availing. But it also makes for an equally worthy treat of sorts for special occasions or a special in itself offering zesting up ordinary events, so much so that versatile indeed can be the attribution of its character.
A preferred breakfast option particularly for kids, mac and cheese covers half the way for sure in setting out the early morning route. After all its premise spread out along the wide classification of the carbs and stuck particularly in the starchy alleys endows it a nature in lending the human body sufficient doses of energy. It also is exactly this characteristic residing that what makes every serving of mac and cheese come across as lip smacking, bringing upon it the identity in indulgence for the senses as well as the soul. For all its hearty assertion in comfort though, whether interpreted strictly in the glossary of food or dug into in seeking of ‘salvation’ perhaps, the origins of mac and cheese itself might not have been stirred by any profound such intention of its serving.
Back when it bubbled up in all glory of as relevant a present day practice, the region of its alluding would continue to be as Italian as pasta itself. The identity though of the now iconic mac and cheese mention would not characterise it yet, with the earliest recipe occurring under the name maakerouns. That would be a English curation though appearing in the 14th-century medieval English cookbook, the Forme of Cury even as similar such pasta and cheese casseroles found almost simultaneous expression also upon the pages of the Italian cookbook, Liber de Coquina.
From thereon, it would be quite some couple of centuries wait for the first modern recipe of the dish to find listing. Finally in 1769, the English cookbook The Experienced English Housekeeper would account for the first ever contemporary detailing of ingredients and process for mac and cheese to find golden bubbly perfection in baking. Fast forward another couple of centuries and the good ol’ and continuing even as gooder new distinction of the delicious dishing of this overwhelming favorite of the masses would entail greater ‘experience’ in its in-house as well as outsourced basis of cooking.
Today mac and cheese preparations are as likely to be simmering and bubbling over gas stoves as they are in baking their way to exactness in casseroles. This means also the scouting of dual grounds of either cooking the macaroni in a separately prepared cheesy sauce or instead by simply layering the only two quintessential ingredients of what makes up this easy dish. The greater modern day thrust upon convenience and comfort has meant also that boxed and packaged mac and cheese mixes are popular, which while might have been a derivation upon the popularity of the dish itself but has also accorded it greater rousing in reception.
Popular as well would be other iterations of the dish, in both its essence as well as in marketing, which might have expanded further the grounds for macaroni to be paired with cheese in as many ways as one fancies. Frozen picks indeed are abundant options encountered along lines and lines of supermarket alleys but it also are tinned and canned versions of them that open up avenues in novelty. Such ready to eat interpretations of this dish are even more remarkable since not only can you eat them right out of the can but also can spread them over toasts for what is quite an exciting breakfasty affair indeed. And thus accrues to this at once delicious but essentially simple assertion of what is indulgence at its finest such distinction that is a different version of what it is ‘ideally’ known to be.
This notion in idealism attributed to mac and cheese might occur as ridiculous since mac and cheese isn’t a healthy assertion indeed in nutritional standards. Or so one would think. The steeping of its status in the sins almost of what indulgence tends to has made mac and cheese reside in more unfavourable a reputation than what it deserves. The carbs rampancy of the dish is also complemented by some amounts of protein and other such compounds of bodily requirement which while might not be substantial enough still would not be entirely devoid of necessary value. To unfairly account then for mac and cheese in totally undesirable measures of its nutritional character- or otherwise rather is a distortion of its image then.
This image in upholding the mac and cheese supremacy boils down also then to the evident aesthetics of it. There’s a reason why it has been specifically this elbow shaped variant of the pasta that has been curating this ubiquitous distinction. There prevails indeed some diversity of the version even under the same name of alluding particularly in more modern derivations such that the essence of it is maintained though.
This still means though that an essential aspect of what makes this preparation come across as such delicious assertion of taste is preferably attended to. Such pasta shapes that display some folds or pockets as part of their identity are most suited to making this dish. For the ‘nuances’ of what follow as part of this arrangement most conducive in holding the cheese as a requirement in collective savoring of the two ingredients is what makes the mac and cheese medley so profusely indulgent indeed.
Of course like every other classic residing upon the globally relished spectrum of the culinary, the mac and cheese narrative too is as potent a player of versatility. Thus much like its comfortable enough flowing through many a different names well within the pasta identity, the constituent cheese itself can be as variable as well in its nature. Even different flavors of cheeses can be used in combination for such preparations of the dish that while might not be traditional, retains still their culinary appeal. Even the premise of minimality that mac and cheese is more than comfortably established in, in all popularity of its comfort food correspondence can be explored in comparative complexity if one so wishes.
Everything from meats and veggies to peppers and even sliced hot dogs can be incorporated into this preparation in as much popularity. Equally commonplace would be regional some interpretations of it, in such interesting notions of what would occur as pies in Scotland, known also in that very evoking of the essence therefore as macaroni pies. Even more distinctive would be the traditional Swiss offering of Älplermagronen or what translates to Alpine herder’s macaroni, with roasted onions as the unique, definite ingredient of necessity. In light of such developments happening well within the traditional cauldron of this cooking, it though is quite surprising that this definitely European emergence has come to assume a greater American character instead, even over and above its more universal reputation.
Equally crosscutting has been the ‘status’ of cooking through which this dish of irresistibleness has meandered over the times. Once a upper class choice, even when emerging as an American inclination, mac and cheese’s non affluent ordinariness but lip smacking still appeal in the present day might be testament to its versatility. But back in the day when the dish used to be cooked by slaves, the character it came to assume would also be one of such low association making it lose much of its celebrated hold.
That mac and cheese still did not slip away from the esteemed ranks of its dwelling is proof enough of the taste being in the pudding. Quite literally indeed since some versions in tracing its origins attribute the dish to have evolved from a popular casserole preparation called the macaroni pudding. That would be an occurrence upon the premises of New England and despite very obvious evidence resting in that name, the allusion instead is to an American region! And thus it manifests in fair enough a evoking in ’emotion’ in mac and cheese being today a very prominently proclaiming American identity first and foremost.
Quintessentially American then in assertion and even more specifically Canadian in that character, this ‘code of conduct’ ushered into the US narrative would entail through the route of the diplomatic, albeit with no underlying intentions as such. Thomas Jefferson most definitely has been the name behind this acquiring by mac and cheese its American distinction. The tale goes that so impressed had been the Founding Father of the United States of America with the preparation that he chanced upon on hi visit to Italy that it would then invariably follow therefore the President to his country of ruling. And thus would unfurl this fairy tale of sorts in attending to the taste buds of the human arousing as being essentially, if not exclusively charting of an American reputation.
The simultaneous assertion of sinfulness and simplicity through which mac and cheese goes about garnering praise for its being is what made it an instant hit also in regions not identifying as its native place. It however would be a greater dawn of popularity upon mac and cheese’s Americanness that was encountered upon not so favourable grounds of history. The Great Depression of the 1930s would be an unlikely claim to fame for the dish finding itself bubbling in all glory. Introduced in 1937 would be the no less iconic ‘innovation’ upon the existing mac and cheese identity, one that would occur as Kraft Mac & Cheese in immediate attaining of success.
With its slogan “make a meal for four in nine minutes”, the novel arising of this ‘liberating’ almost prospect in enjoyable eating seemed particularly promising at a time considerably constricted by a crunch of the finances. Very popularly received then was this product in the US and Canada and continuing its run in success decades hence to even acquire distinction as a de facto national dish of Canada, where it is known specifically as Kraft Dinner, this boxed manufacturing of the mac and cheese recipe has done much to expand the popular route for this essentially European envisioning to saunter along.
Even otherwise though, outside its crafted destiny so to say, mac and cheese had always been a recipe for success. Fuss free a means of preparation and still sumptuous in serving, such that calls upon a mere two ingredients of major requirement, easily attended to as well in the procedure of its cooking, hearty in its filling capacity of an essential draw upon the primaries of carbs and calories and also soul satisfying in greater regard of what it is in its comfort food occurrence, it is no surprise that mac and cheese has been entirely loved and absolutely celebrated in all deliverance of its magic. Thank God indeed for this delight called mac and cheese, for what would the world have come to without bowls of this sticky, creamy, cheesy off-whites to drool over as the stuff the most pleasant of dreams are made of?