Tuesday, March 10, 2015

My Secret

Many have a food that they guiltily eat in secret. A food they secretly love. Maybe it's incredibly unhealthy. Maybe it's something others sneer at as not worthy of culinary consideration. Perhaps it's so over-the-top indulgent they're embarrassed to admit they enjoy it.

For me, one of those foods is Kraft macaroni and cheese.

Did I just hear you quietly scoff under your breath? Suspend your disdain for a moment, because Kraft mac-n-cheese, done right, is one of life's little joys.

Kraft mac-n-cheese is a kid favorite. They love it. My daughter constantly requests we make it for her. It's so popular that some restaurants have it on their kids menu. It's easy to dismiss it as kiddie food, something an adult palate would never bother with. It's also neon orange. The color is totally fake. It's outrageously bright orange. It's as if it were saying "Hey, look at me!" It has no real cheese in it. The ingredients list reads like a college level science exam. Plus, it has no nutritional value other than carbs and a little protein.

In spite of all the negatives, the kids are on to something. Because it's diabolically delicious.

Oh, there are healthier brands out there. Some are organic. They have real cheese in them. They also eschew the artificial orange color for natural color. And they all suck. None of them has the je ne sais quoi that Kraft mac-n-cheese has. Most don't even come close. Kraft's version is often imitated but never duplicated.

The key to enjoying Kraft mac-n-cheese is to know a few important dos and don'ts.

First, the classic mac-n-cheese is the only one to get. They have a ton of different shapes. There's a homestyle version. A deluxe version. They even have an all natural version now—oh the horror! Skip all those. The one, and the only one worth your time is the classic "macaroni and cheese dinner".

Replace the margarine with butter. The classic prep uses margarine. I don't like margarine, and butter tastes far better in my opinion. Just use butter instead.

Third, and most important, and I can't stress this tip enough... eat it immediately. How you eat it matters. Eat it right out of the pot. Don't even bother to get a bowl. Eat it with the big spoon you used to mix it. Don't waste precious seconds to get a soup spoon—it's tastes better when you stuff giant spoonfuls in your mouth anyway. Get the butter and milk ready beforehand, and once you drain the pasta work quickly, time is of the essence. Then, EAT! NOW! Eat it like a farm sow that hasn't been fed in a week. Shovel it in your mouth like it's the last meal you'll ever have and your life depends on it.

All the while basking in its cheesy, gooey, creamy, buttery, salty, glory.

And if it takes longer than 2 minutes to eat, you ate too slowly. Kraft mac-n-cheese is at it's peak when it's blazing hot, burn-the-roof-of-your-mouth hot. The minute you make it, it starts to deteriorate. Eat it when it's hot, and eat it fast, before it cools.

Fourth, and this is related to the third tip, don't bother saving any leftovers. Throw them out. Better yet, eat the whole box so you won't feel guilty about wasting food. Or you could feed it to your dog. Kraft mac-n-cheese is bland and tasteless when reheated. The magic is gone and you can't get it back.  Resist the urge to eat the leftovers. Trust me.

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