Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Comfort And Oy ...

The title of this post will take you to a story in the New York Times about macaroni and cheese.

Julia Moskin, the writer, was reared by "food-forward" parents on a diet of fish stews and falafel. Not surprisingly, today she craves all the comfort food she was denied as a child.

And so she set out to find the best recipe for macaroni and cheese. One 20-year-old recipe by John Thorne ("Simple Cooking") calls for a pound of cheddar and a half pound of macaroni. Yes, you read that right. A 2:1 ratio of cheese to macaroni. Sure, the '80s were prone to excess, but I thought that was reserved for Wall Street and shoulder pads. A pound of cheese to a half-pound of macaroni? That's just madness.

Mr. Thorne does not hide his disdain for other mac and cheese preparations. Quoting: "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."

OK, Thorne, I gotta stop you right there (though, no doubt, he was stopped by his own mac and cheese recipe years ago; I wonder if Mr. Thorne is still with us ...): I was taught to make macaroni and "cheese sauce" years ago and I don't mind saying that my friends *rave* about it. "It's the texture," my friend Judy used to say. Because it was like velvet. Velvet cheese.

Mac and cheese made with cheddar is an oily, gloppy mess. Eww. But mac and cheese made with bechamel and Velveeta. Ahh. Velvet cheese heaven.

They don't call it Velveeta for nothing, you know.


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