My mother is on a quest to find the best macaroni and cheese recipe on the planet. If I didn't live in the house, she would probably cook and serve mac and cheese three nights a week for the cause. Because my low weight is a major source of whiny complaints from every doctor who treats me for any reason including my dentist, my mom does not routinely cook food for dinner that I refuse to eat. For this reason I am spared the ordeal of having to eat mac and cheese more than once a week, but I do have to eat it once a week. No matter what else is happening in either the real world or the culinary world, mac and cheese shows up on my plate every Thursday night
Tonight's version of macaroni and cheese came to us courtesy of a recipe created by Alton Brown, the quintessentially geeky host of Food Network's Good Eats and Iron Chef America. Mr. Brown's version of mac and cheese would rank squarely in the middle as far as go the various mac and cheese genres my mom has dug up and thrown at us. It was neither disgusting enough to be on my Donner Party List of foods that I would decline to eat even if the only other options available to me were certain death by starvation or subsisting on the late Tamsen Donner's (May She Rest In Peace) flesh, nor was it something I would choose to eat if I had a whole lot of choice in the matter. If Alton Brown's interpretation of macaroni and cheese were to appear on a plate in front of me, I would eat it if I were famished, if I didn't feel like fighting with my parents about it, or if I were in a situation, such as being a guest in someone else's home, where it might be socially awkward not to eat it. While this may sound like a less-than-rousing endorsement of Alton Brown's mac and cheese as prepared by my mother, I should go on record as stating that I have had much worse in the three-years-and-change since my mother took up this rather peculiar obsession.
One version of macaroni and cheese that my mother culled from America's Most Vomit-Inducing Recipes or some similarly vile compilation featured, of all things, cottage cheese. Cottage cheese is the number two entry on my Donner Part List [topped only by mayonnaise; for those of you who share my taste, no further clarification is necessary]. I will not eat cottage cheese by itself, buried in a recipe with one thousand other ingredients, in a house, with a mouse, here or there, anywhere: I DO NOT EAT COTTAGE CHEESE, SAM I AM! My mother insisted I only thought I could taste the cottage cheese because I watched her scoop it into the pan, but it was the only freaking cheese in the recipe. She could not have honestly believed I would have mistaken the albino-barf slather for mozzarella.
Another version of macaroni and cheese forced upon us was a recipe created by Bobby Flay for the episode of his television series Throwdown, in which he ambushed mac and cheese diva Delilah Winder (named "Queen of Macaroni and Cheese" either by Oprah or by her minions). Flay's recipe might have escaped Donner Party List status had he not included the particularly abhorrent ingredient pancetta. My dad says that when a food product so obscure as pancetta makes its way onto one's Donner Party List, that is clear evidence in point that the person's Donner Party List has grown too expansive and too unwieldy, and that, for the list to have any relevance or utilitarianism, it needs to be limited to no more than twenty items. To this inane idea, I respond with a wholehearted POPPYCOCK! [Editorial Note: Had I waited precisely one hundred days [[ until the date of my eighteenth birthday]] to author this particular post, the wording of my response would have been more colorful.] It's MY Donner Party List. If I choose for it to contain a single item, or if I choose three hundred items to comprise my list, it is my, and solely my prerogative. For the record, the list presently stops after number sixty-seven. If I'm ever bored and/or desire to burden my three readers with pointless information, I'll present my list in its entirety someday: but back to the topic at hand. Pancetta is greasy, fatty, congealed, utterly dusgusting meat (and I apply the term meat only in the most technical sense of the word) from the belly of a pig. Even regular bacon has to be almost charred in order for me to consider remaining in the same room with it. If cooked to perfection I will actually eat regular bacon. Pancetta, on the other hand. . . . I don't even know where to begin, so I won't.
Incidentally, my mom once started to prepare Paula Deen's version of macaroni and cheese. My dad threatened to have her charged with attempted murder, so she tossed the recipe instead of attempting it.
I've gone on and on about nothing, as seems to be my wont. If anyone has a really good recipe for mac and cheese, please come to my rescue and send it to me. Perhaps it will put an end to this senseless weekly act of culinary violence.