“At least she’s eating better things than macaroni and cheese.”
– Heidi Klum
Throughout my life my mother has been in school, in some capacity or another. When I was about three or four, she had to leave Dad and I for a few weeks to finish up something or other with one of her degrees (I misremember which. Which isn’t me being a bad daughter, it’s her having one in Asian Studies, one in American History, and now another in Classical Studies from Cambridge because she decided to learn Greek and Latin. In other words, my mother is exceptionally awesome). Time has blurred the details a bit but as I recall, this was an absolute highlight of my short life because Dad and I subsisted on mainly pizza.
I didn’t realize this during the Great Pizza Blitz, but it turned out that my Dad hated cooking. Really hated it. He encouraged my Mum to go to school, continue her education throughout her life, and work if she wanted, but by golly the one thing he wanted was dinner to be on the table, because left up to him, dinner would come grudgingly from a frozen package.
So, a few years down the road when she decided to teach for a semester or two at a local university, I thought the Pizza Affair would be reborn. I was sadly, terrifyingly mistaken.
Mac and Cheese. From a box. Every night. Some days even for lunch. Sometimes we varied it up with chunks of hotdog, but mostly not. Again, I’m sure both time and horror have worked their magic on me and the vile orange sludge was not as prolific as I remember, but it sure seemed like it at the time. When my mother’s teaching finished, I refused to eat another disgusting, processed bite, and I’ve never touched it since. Once when shopping J. picked up a box for himself on days when I’d be at school late or he needed a lunch, I had to swallow escaping bile.
However, watching Food Network the other day, I saw a recipe for ‘Grown Up Mac And Cheese’ and thought suddenly to myself, “That doesn’t look so bad.” It sounded pretentious enough that I could assure myself that it would be as un-Kraft-like as possible, but looked really easy to make. So, on Sunday I girded my loins and made Mac and Cheese for the first time in years.
And you know what? It was pretty darned tasty!
**I’ll still never make the packaged stuff again. My children will not be subjected to this powdered cheese monstrosity, except to survive the Zombie Apocalypse. And even then, I might choose death.