Tuesday, March 30, 2010

How close are you to your food?

Yesterday, I was feeling creative and decided to vegetize homemade macaroni. I bought pasta shells, 2 different varieties of "Italian blend" shredded cheese, a bag of shredded parmesan cheese, red and yellow peppers, fresh zucchini, and soy milk.

I went home, sauteed the vegetables in olive oil and ground pepper, boiled the noodles, added the milk and the cheese (and a little butter) to the noodles, and found that the cheese was clumpy and sticking to the spoon, and just not mixing well at all. I was used to the powdered kind, or the creamy "sauce packet" kind that came in the box.

Then is hit me: I had never, before only embarrassingly recently, considered cheese as a possibility for a pasta topping. Tomato sauce, alfredo sauce, beef sauce, sure. Cheese? Huh? That didn't even occur to me.

Even though I've been eating macaroni and cheese for my entire life.

My mom even made homemade macaroni and cheese. She used Velveeta, though, because it melted easily. It wasn't real cheese, and the easy meltability wasn't indicative of a "cheesiness," but rather a feature of the food product.

It only just now occurred to me that I can put cheese on pasta and that cheesy pasta isn't just some weird invention. And I've been eating macaroni and cheese my entire life. What does that say about our relationship with food today? (All right, I'm only talking about my relationship with food today, but I hardly think my experience is unique.) Macaroni and cheese didn't come from a blue and yellow box. It came from PASTA AND CHEESE. Kraft simply made a product out of the combination, and we allowed Kraft to redefine macaroni and cheese for us, to the point that cheese and pasta without the blue and yellow box stopped making sense.

Oh, if you're curious, the macaroni that I made was amazing: