Friday, May 22, 2009

"Macaroni" and "Cheese"

Landmark event: I ate boxed macaroni and cheese for the first time today. Okay, fine, technically, it was "organic white cheese and shell pasta" BUT the cheese was in powdered form so it TOTALLY COUNTS. It tasted a lot like... a cream sauce that hadn't been cooked properly, mixed with tiny shell pasta, mixed with dreams. It was an adventure for my taste buds.

Yes, I admit, I may be an elitist snob and you may hate me already. But if you could for one second not take yourself so seriously, you could ponder that there is something distinctly American about a food whose entire concept it based on it's ability to congeal between the time you mix it with milk and you put it on your spoon.

For reasons I can't explain I have been craving a food I have never tasted for about three weeks. Macaroni and cheese. Unfortunately, my local small grocery store only had this organic stuff when I was kinda hoping for some sort of 400 calorie a serving, 2-minute, microwavable thing, where they trick you with the serving sizes. You know... you buy a box and you think it's 400 calories for the box, but the box serves four. Just like a pint of Ben and Jerry's... and contrary to logic this in no way deters you from purchasing the item one bit despite the fact that eating the entire thing will give you a massive food coma.

Mmmmm food coma...

The thing about food cravings like this is that once you fulfill them you are left wondering what brought it about. There isn't much left after you are satisfied. When you crave a material object like an article of clothing and save up until finally after long last you purchase it, at least you walk away with that item. You have something to show for the craving, for the process of craving. But sating a food craving leaves you merely less hungry for food in that moment, and more hungry for an new craving.

Furthermore, by putting off such a simple craving like boxed macaroni and cheese for what turned out to be 23 years, I find myself wanting to experience other Americana experiences that I've missed: go to a county fair, drive a car, listen to bluegrass, eat grits, corndogs, chicken fried steak, flap jacks and maybe even chitlins (probably not chitlins), ride in a hot-air balloon, paint-ball something, sing "American Pie" with other people.

Part of my craving for America must to be coming from the repressing of my American background for so long while I've lived abroad. My need to fit into other cultures has overwhelmed my true heritage. In truth, my family members, particularly my father have never defined themselves as "American" so much as "Academic" or "Citizens of the world." When people ask me where I am from, I say, "all over," because I feel connected to so many different places, cultures and countries even though I hold only a U.S. passport.

I think the only thing left to say is, there was ziti, les p√Ętes, lo mein, ravioli, gnocchi, rice noodles, pad thai, wheat pasta, Kenyan pasta, couscous, lasagna, spaghetti, penne, rice (and all it's variations), fusilli, alphabet pasta, baked shells, orzo, soba noodles, and a hundred different shapes and sizes and sauces.

And for one time only there was the one and only, the infamous, the boxed and packaged and prepared, the American:

Macaroni and Cheese.

Thanks for reading and best regards,

P.S. Not only did I fall into a food coma after eating my "macaroni" and "cheese" meal, I also weigh two pounds more today. Despite these facts, I feel as though I need to do it right: I need a real macaroni and cheese taste test.


Emily Norton said...

For future reference... Easy Mac is the truly original junk you have to try. The McDonald's of the mac and cheese world.