You could see it everywhere: on grocery shelves, on dinner tables, beside that tray in the cafeteria, etc. It’s a common sight for this regular dish. It’s one of those versatile dishes that you now that people will enjoy eating. And it’s not just adults who love it; even kids relish its flavor. Not a bad accomplishment for something that’s had a long history. From the homes of humble homemakers to the dinner tables of presidents, this has become an icon of American cooking and one of those favorite comfort foods of many: macaroni and cheese.
Macaroni is mentioned in various medieval Italian sources, although it doesn’t clearly say whether it’s a form of noodle or a prepared dish. However, pasta and cheese casseroles have been known since ancient times and mentioned in cookbooks such as the Liber de Coquina, indicating that they were a known style of dish. A form of cheese and noodle casserole known as Makerouns was first recorded in an English cookbook in the 14th century. It was prepared from fresh hand-cut noodles, sandwiched between a mixture of melted butter and cheese. Apparently, this was considered an upper-class dish even in Italy until around the 18th century.
This dish became a popular all throughout Europe, and this fancy for the dish does not end on its shores. European settlers in America brought their fancy to the dish along with them, making shore that their ships are loaded with barrels of cheese, as well as other ingredients. At that time, macaroni and cheese have turned into a diet staple. It’s one of those dishes that don’t require so much ingredients. As long as you have an oven, then you can have it anytime of the day. It’s also versatile enough to go well with other ingredients such as fish, meat, and poultry.
Although Thomas Jefferson did not become “The Father of America,”he still deserved to be given a title, in particular, “The Father of Macaroni and Cheese.”After his six-month stint as ambassador to France, Jefferson returned to America. He also brought along a pasta machine that he had previously acquired in Italy. From there, he was able to perfect a better pasta machine from the original. It was also during this time that he began making different recipes for this pasta that he usually calls “macaroni.”He would it served in his meals, and during gatherings as well. Owing to his introduction of the dish, it caught on to the American public as well.
Over the years, macaroni and cheese became synonymous to flexibility and freedom. Women who have started looking for work appreciated the ease of cooking that macaroni and cheese provided. This was probably brought about when, in 1937, Kraft Foods introduced their boxed dinner line of prepared meals, mainly the macaroni and cheese. It further gained widespread acceptance when World War II came. With the men fighting in on the front, food being rationed, and meat selling at a premium, instant food like macaroni and cheese became a staple to the American diet. Working women are grateful that they can cook something fast and filling when they come home. At that time, this type or casserole is seen as healthier than meat dishes.
Macaroni and cheese had certainly placed itself at the heart of American dining. Whether it remains a favored dish in the future remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure. This meal is going to stay.