Friday, January 06, 2006

mac'n cheese lovers of the world unite

Ever since I was about ten, a bowl of mac & cheese, preferably with sauce straight from the packet, is my idea of bliss. It's a shameful passion, I've learned, as my love for this classic American dish has earned me untold scorn and ridicule. Some have derided me as "a Chinese hobo!," while more sophisticated foodies hurled such sociopolitically astute insults as "Blue State trailer trash." You might as well profess a love for lawn furniture or Wayne Newton, so widely disrepected is that signature convenience food for midwestern adolescents. Artists have not been kind either. In Last Days, Gus Van Sant showed a Kurt Cobain (or Kurt wanna-be) so out of it, he threw the paper box in to the pot of boiling water. In Van Sant's telling, mac & cheese is the last refuge of helpless druggies, just a step above eating instant ramen dry.

Given how disreputable mac & cheese has been among the bobo set, I was shocked to learn that one of the most e-mailed articles of the week from the Bobo Bible was this one on the glories of traditional mac & cheese. The writer has got it right. Classic mac & cheese is best. In a few nouveau American eateries, you'd find cooks attempting some of kitsch reinvention: organic durum wheat macaroni topped with gruyère and ingram rosemary and slices of viennese sausage. Dude, fuck that. For twenty bucks, I can place an order of toro and kampachi at a medium-tier sushi joint in LA. Frou-frou mac n' cheese is not only a sacrilege, it's an utterly unsavory reinvention. These nouveau American chefs are better off following Kurt Cobain's lead. Pour the sauce from the cheese-packet or stick a slice of raincoat-yellow all-American cheese on top of heated macaroni. For the coup de grâce -- five or six Oscar Meyer mini-hot dogs (y'know, those cute little brown things that look like Farrah Fawcett's distended nipples). Salt to taste and serve.

Man, I can eat that twice a week.