Macaroni to us, maccherone to an Italian mama, or plain pasta secca.
Call it what you will but the tubes of hard pasta, when boiled and smothered
in something cheesy become a much loved comfort food enjoyed all over
ORIGIN OF MACARONI AND CHEESE
It's not generally known where macaroni
originated and the subject has been the cause of much disparity for
centuries. Experts are confident that it was first prepared by the Arab
nation, but Romans, Greeks and Chinese also lay claim
to inventing this tasty yet cheap and satisfying staple.More than likely, it originated in Italy, probably with flat noodles and the ubiquitous sprinkling of cheese - in this case a lot of cheese on the macaroni. The author of the anonymously written Liber de coquina gives a recipe that used powdered spices between layers of pasta. Some believe Jefferson brought it back from Italy may be responsible for its origin, the Italian cheese being replaced by the more ubiquitous (at the time) American Cheddar cheese. Who cares who
invented it and when? It's here, and we love it!
When I was small and ill, my mother
would present the creamy cheese filled pasta cylinders with a happy
face drawn in tomato sauce on it. The dish was never too hot and was
always accompanied by a slice of fresh buttered white bread and a glass
of chilled milk. The memory still makes me feel better on off days today,
and needless to say my offspring enjoyed the same healing fare!
Today, variations on the unpretentious
macaroni cheese recipe are legion. However, if you have little ones
at home who are not feeling up to the mark and won't eat, try the macaroni
and ketchup happy face. I always found my appetite for it, followed
by a big hug goodnight from my mom!
HOW TO MAKE GREAT MACARONI
Yes, you have to plunge the macaroni
into rapidly boiling, salted water and cook until al dente. We all know
that. Also, a little olive oil or butter added to the water will prevent
the pasta from sticking to the bottom, or each other. And don't skimp
on the salting! Get ready for a great macaroni and cheese. Well known tips.
But, I am going to let you into
a little secret that my mother in law, Elna Clayton, gave me years ago
for preparing macaroni and cheese with a difference.
Instead of layering the macaroni
and pouring the cheese sauce over each layer, drain all the macaroni,
return to the warm pot and pour your cheese sauce into the pasta. Stir
well, for about 3 to 4 minutes and allow to stand for about 15 minutes.
This way the cheese sauce gets into all the tubes and oozes out deliciously
between your teeth when you bite them. Nicer still is to stir crisply
fried and chopped bacon (fat and rind removed) into the pasta and cheese,
for a different taste experience.
Oh yes, the remainder of the sauce
should be poured over the top and sprinkled with fresh white breadcrumbs
for an exceptional golden brown topping on your mac and cheese.