Life with Mac and Cheese

Macaroni Pie 095
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Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
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Crusty Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon
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I woke up sort of early this morning; still trying to get over the jet lag and being sick, I guess. As I lay in bed either waiting for the sun to come up or for me to go back to sleep, I started thinking about life in different parts of the world. I felt such gratitude for my home, my neighborhood, my city, my country. I wasn’t thinking in terms that things “over here” are so much better than things “over there”. Mostly my mind wandered from disconnected thought to disconnected thought. You know how your mind does that sometimes. I was thinking about trials and difficulties in my own life, about the bad dream I had last night, about my family, about my religion, about my interactions with people as I traveled, about things I saw in other countries, and eventually I started thinking about food.
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My appetite seems to be returning, which is a good sign that I am feeling better. Last week I had felt so sick that all I wanted to do was find the nearest mortuary, buy a cheap casket, climb in, close the lid, and wait for the resurrection. Rough week.
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Anyway, like I said, I was thinking about food this morning. I could go on ad-nauseum about American food vs. food in the rest of the world. The bottom line is this: Americans like foods from other countries, but we tend to take them and juggle the ingredients until we give the foods an American twist. American food-shows talk about “layers of flavor” and “kicking things up a notch”; this is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s just the way we do things. Granted, it is sometimes good to step back from the “ultimate” and enjoy things in a simpler form–eat an apple just for the sake of remembering what a sweet, juicy apple tastes like; try some boiled potatoes enhanced only with salt, pepper, and a little butter; bake a chicken seasoned with a favorite herb and some salt and pepper; or sit down with a bowl of unshelled nuts and a nutcracker and reintroduce yourself to nuts in their natural form.
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In the meantime, however, let’s talk about macaroni and cheese. You probably grew up with mac and cheese in one form or another. Maybe that blue box of Kraft macaroni and cheese was your first introduction to this staple of childhood; maybe its the only one you’ve ever eaten. Maybe its time to move on.
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The three posts below are about Macaroni and Cheese. I think that maybe in our reinvention of the wheel we keep trying to make the perfect or the ultimate mac and cheese. We love our mac and cheese, but we want to make it more sophisticated with elegant cheeses as though we might be a little ashamed at getting caught eating ordinary mac and cheese. But I have a confession…I just can’t bring myself to pay for Gruyere or asiago or Stilton or or very fine parmesan regiano just to remake mac and cheese. I might buy them for other things, but I just can’t do it for mac and cheese. Why? Because mac and cheese is what it is– family pleasing, stick to your ribs, belly filling simple, good food.
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I hope that you enjoy these macs and cheeses. They include Creamy Macaroni and Cheese, Crusty Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon, and something that may be new to you, Macaroni Pie (just read the recipe before you start forming images in your head–this is a recipe with a lot of history behind it).

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