For many Americans, macaroni and cheese represents the height of comfort-food cuisine, a deliciously simple dish harking back to Grandma’s take on the classic recipe, which in her capable hands quickly transformed itself from an appetizing afterthought into a carefully constructed homemade concoction dripping with four kinds of cheese lovingly shaved over fresh cooked pasta and then baked in the oven until melted in the middle and golden brown on top. Mmmmmm, golden brown.
That must be nice...having those kinds of precious memories to look back on.
Mac and cheese comforts me as well, but my fond recollections actually date back to my early 20s—days immersed in temp-job drudgery and paying down debts, when my meal preparation consisted, as it were, of smoking resin hits from my pipe in the skuzzy bohemian-flophouse kitchen I shared with 20 roommates while waiting for the microwave to finish nuking my latest batch of processed cheesy goodness. Forget four kinds of cheese, by the way—when it came to the shitty, cheap-ass store brand I favored, I’m not even sure there was one kind. After all, the package described its main ingredient as “cheese-flavored food product,” which always struck me as a little less than full disclosure. If cheese is the flavor, I wondered, what is the product? Then again, there are some things in life you just don’t want to know, and the process behind processing processed cheese is probably one of them.
Anyway, when the food-column fairies who magically conjure up the delicious dank dishes we feature each month in this space arrived in my nice dreams most recently bearing a tray of ganja-infused mac and cheese, I must admit that at first I was a bit disappointed to find the offering fit the homemade Grandma “golden brown” mold—that is, right up until I tried a few forkfuls and realized just how delicious golden brown can be. Plus, about an hour after ingestion, I was pretty much stoned off my ass.