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Macaroni and Lots of Cheese
By Julia Moskin

Macaroni and cheese is just the kind of all-American, old-fashioned home cooking I was not raised on.

New York City in the 1970's was a hotbed of culinary radicalism. Food-forward parents like mine served dinners of homemade falafel, Mediterranean fish stew or stir-fried beef with broccoli. To me, dishes like spaghetti and meatballs, mashed potatoes with gravy and macaroni and cheese seemed exotic and unattainable.

Naturally, this is where my greatest passions lie as a cook. And after the frenzy of holiday cooking, a simple dish like macaroni and cheese is just what I want to make now.

Lacking a family recipe, I turned to cookbooks for guidance. A strange substance called "white sauce" cropped up again and again. Bread crumbs, Worcestershire sauce and alien cheeses like smoked gouda and parmigiano also kept finding their way in. None of the recipes came close to my fantasy of what the dish should be: nothing more than tender elbows of pasta suspended in pure molten cheddar, with a chewy, golden-brown crust of cheese on top.

While reading the following passage in a 20-year-old cookbook called "Simple Cooking," the problem became clear:

"A good dish of macaroni and cheese is hard to find these days. The recipes in most cookbooks are not to be trusted...usually it is their vexatious infatuation with white sauce, a noxious paste of flour-thickened milk, for this dish flavored with a tiny grating of cheese. Contrary to popular belief, this is not macaroni and cheese but macaroni with cheese sauce. It is awful stuff and every cookbook in which it appears should be thrown out the window." More ... Cooking Articles


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