A thank you note to macaroni and cheese
Dear macaroni and cheese,
When people talk about soulmates, you’re my first thought. Sure, you may be made of milk and cheese and tiny little pasta tubes, but that doesn’t make you any less special to me on an emotional level.
When I was a kid, my mom would buy you instant in those little cans. They’d usually sit at the back of our rotating cupboard until I wasn’t feeling very well (or my dad was in charge of dinner) when we’d have you heated up on buttery toast. I know, I know, you’re probably letting off steam just thinking about that impasta of your delicious self, but technically it was still a version of yourself, so counts.
Do you remember, though, when my mom moved out? My sister and I would visit, spending cozy autumn nights watching DVD’s I’d brought over and anticipating you cooking away in the kitchen. My mom’s homemade version had a topping so crispy and golden hot it could hypnotize you (sorry if we ever made you uncomfortable by staring for so long). We’d fight to get more of the thick molten cheese, cutting through your surface with the serving spatula in excitement at how never-ending the pasta underneath seemed to be, as if there were an entire cheesy universe within every baking tray.
When I went to university I realised I was a pretty terrible cook. Some of my highlights included a nut roast covered in baked beans and a tomato soup stirred in with spaghetti hoops. But then, one fateful trip to the g station next door to our house led me to you once again, in the form of thin little powdered packets. This became a diet staple. Most nights I’d fight my housemates over the only non-dirty saucepan in the cupboard and then pour the dry, yellowy powdered mixture in with butter, milk and a little water. Now, you might think you were making things easy with those “just add water” packets, but really you were deceptively difficult. Getting that sauce right was no mean feat. If you didn’t add enough milk you’d end up going thick and gloopy, forming into a big blob of yellow cheese and pasta. If you added too much milk though you’d become a milky soup with macaroni croutons. I’d still like to thank you for those times though, as not only did they get me through many an essay all-nighter, but I’m also now proud to call myself a master of instant mac.
A few months ago I decided it was time to start cooking properly, and what better meal to start with than my all-time favourite: you. The first time I tried it didn’t go so well: overcooked the pasta and then added too much milk and not enough cheese (HUGE error). Second time around I added an entire block of mature cheddar and monitored the pasta as if we were in a staring contest. When I took you out of the oven I could hear the gentle, cauldron-like bubbling of the cheese on top, perfectly bronzed. I’ve never felt so proud.
Whether you’re bland and milky in cans, yellow and gloopy in packets or wonderfully cheesy, creamy and crispy in all the right places, I love you. You’re a part of my life I couldn’t have done without. No one can quite comfort me after a day of sadness or stress like you can, or bring me together with strangers through a mutual love of your deliciousness. Thanks for being you in all your warm and cheesy glory.
[Image via iStock]