I have no recollection of ever having boxed macaroni and cheese growing up until I was about 13-years old. I probably had been introduced to it at a friend’s house, but I specifically remember starting to babysit and having to make it for the kids I was watching. Being that I had barely ever cooked on my own, I was initially fearful of the process, but once I was able to taste to fruit (or macaroni, as it were) of my efforts, the love affair with the blue box began. Throughout high school I tore through boxes of the stuff, my mom buying the economy packs from Sam’s Club & BJ’s.
As I got older, my tastes refined to the “creamy” style mac, which presented its “real cheese sauce” in a gelatinous tube-like package. A former boyfriend used to visit me at college and bring me containers of this in lieu of flowers or chocolates. Around this time, the world was introduced to Easy Mac and the drunk college kids (myself included), who were ill-equipped with the proper kitchen hook ups, rejoiced.
I “grew up” but did not grow out of my love for mac n’cheese. Now my husband and I make ourselves feel better for ingesting cheese from a pouch by purchasing the “all natural” Annie’s variety. That being said, the 44 cent store-brand box is oft still found in our cabinets when we are poor and in need of a semi-decent “comfort” meal.
When we’re feeling more refined (and have the money to splurge), we scour the internets, collecting wonderful, decadent mac n’cheese recipes. Many recommendations have also come from friends, who also share our love of the pasta-plus-dairy combo (most recently Elle–thanks, love!). Recently, we’ve tested recipes that have had me spend nearly $20 in fancy cheeses just to perfect a decadent dish of the comfort food that has tirelessly comforted. And in case you were wondering, yes, perfection was achieved.
Nationality, race, credo, gender… these are all the more likely attributes that come to mind when one reflects on what defines a person. But, after the many relationships and memories in my life that center around the love and indulgence of something as seemingly simple as melted cheese mixed with pasta, I’m beginning to think that little blue box holds more than dried macaroni and processed cheese powder.