There are going to be innumerable times at which we will be gobbling up our favorites foods and ignoring their origin and history. At that moment, all we would be able to focus on would be the process of the food getting into our bellies ASAP and satisfying that strong craving of hunger. One such food which has also become a global favorite is Macaroni and Cheese. And, if you are sitting behind that computer nodding clandestinely, we are not judging. And, why would we be? When there’s macaroni pasta available, and some leftover mozzarella cheese and milk, we’re the first ones to make the best and easiest dish in this world.
However, where did America’s favorite food come from? And, how do we know the variations that we see today? What brought on this diversity? Find out in this blog.
America’s favorite comfort food made its debut in 1937. A general consensus would be able to tell you that this comfort food was and is still preferred by people from all walks of life- millennials, picky eaters and even the wealthy lot! It’s the simplicity, we reckon, that attracts the consumer to this comfort food in the first place. Even back then, Mac ‘n’ Cheese would be packaged in boxes and consumed during dinner time or just about any time, for that matter.
However, here comes the twist. If you thought that the origins of Mac ‘n’ Cheese are contemporary, you are wrong. Because, food historians can trace it back to the 13th century and that too in Italy (Oh, to be the hub of the best food in the world!). A text called ‘Liber de Coquina’ written in Latin mentions the recipe of America’s favorite comfort food. The recipe instructs that REAL cheese be put in Macaroni pasta while it boils away in water.
Another clue that points to Mac ‘n’ Cheese having an ancient background is that it first originated as a pudding and was supposedly famous among New England church go-ers who loved hosting suppers and potlucks. For these people and even for us, this comfort food is not only easy to make but also inexpensive. We can also connect the dots as to why it made its debut as a pudding. Even now, a glob of this delicacy in a pan looks like a pudding from far away! But when you come closer and pick apart the pasta wrapped in layers of cheese, that is when you realize that you are about to devour one of the easiest but most delicious foods EVER created. So next time you are invited to a potluck and have a casserole lying around with the requisite ingredients, you’ll know what to do!
Of course, evolution is how man enters the abyss of change and adapts to it. This is why it is also important to mention that the recipe from Italy used Parmesan cheese but when it traveled to the United States, cheddar cheese and American cheese replaced the former just to give a touch of the country it was being cooked in.
We would also like to inform you about the company which made Mac ‘n’ Cheese historic and memorable during the American Great Depression. It was Kraft which introduced a boxed version of Mac ‘n’ Cheese which came with a small packet of powdered cheese and that is precisely when the more disadvantaged families of America rejoiced. They may have had to wait in long lines at soup kitchens and other eateries for it, but they were still able to feed their families. After all, Kraft’s Mac ‘n’ Cheese was easy to make, cheap and provided a sense of happiness to whoever ate it. Kraft gave the Americans what they were not expecting: a culinary masterpiece filled with carbs and protein, all packed in a box, no less!
The Kraft Mac ‘n’ Cheese became so popular that it sold 8 million boxes in its first year.
Even soldiers serving during World War 2 were at the receiving end of what came after eating Mac ‘n’ Cheese. To them, this American food reminded them of home. They could serve better after realizing that they had had a wholesome serving of carbs, protein and carbohydrates. The creamy taste and the long shelf-life were also some contributing factors that made this food popular during those tumultuous times. Not only this but Mac ‘n’ Cheese was also a favorable option when fresher food options like meat were scarce.
As we transitioned to more modern times, Mac ‘n’ Cheese started getting reinvented. More changes were made to the cheese that was being used in it and even the pasta was played around with. Now a days, you can stuff Mac ‘n’ Cheese into a sandwich and call it a day. Or tomorrow, you can have a Mac ‘n’ Cheese pizza!
Our favorite rendition of this American comfort food is simpler than the reader would expect. We like it baked! We love the moment the white pasta comes out of the oven and there is an uneven sheen of brown cheese all over it. We love slicing into the hot dish and feeling it melt into our mouths.
Of course, there are some unusual variations of Mac ‘n’ Cheese that you would not be able to guess. There’s Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese, Green Macaroni and Cheese and even Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese!
Thomas Jefferson is known to be a big fan of this affordable food. And, we fully understand why. It’s not every day that you come across a food that you can eat for breakfast and at 3:00 AM.
Often, we do not give a second thought to why we are eating what we are eating. Maybe, what you had for lunch two days ago has an interesting lineage and you do not even know about it. This is why we recommend getting to know your food because it’s going to get to know you (whether you like it or not) pretty well when it gets in your tummy!
After reading this blog, we are sure that you will now enjoy a warm, soft and gooey bowl of Mac N Cheese ten times more. Bon appétit in advance!