Food Review: Mac ‘n’ Cheese

When it comes to food, whether you are a gastronome of sorts or a fastidious eater with a limited palette of three carbon-copy dishes, I think  we can all agree macaroni and cheese is a beloved classic, a pinnacle of American cuisine, childhood, comfort and so much more. 

I am a mac and cheese connoisseur.  From my mother’s mac and cheese that would make my cousin consistently puke at family festivities, to the finest mac and cheese money can buy, I feel I am thoroughly adept at judging this simple yet delectable dish. 

Delicious Mac and cheese, however, is easier said than done. In fact, it’s rather easy to do so wrong. Countless times I’ve been to restaurants craving what I picture as a quintessential classic only to get somebody’s detestable,  godawful take on the dish. 

By putting the dish into the hands of a chef you know little about, you run the risk of a ruined meal. Sometimes, it is simply easier to do it yourself. There are MANY kinds of make at home mac and cheese: microwavable, premade, canned etc.. Boxed mac and cheese is simply a gift. The difficulty is finding the right box in a sea of mac and cheese. With mainstream brands like Kraft, Annie’s, Velveeta and select local brands, how in the world do I know what brand to get! I decided to end this great debate and test them all.

During my trip to the grocery store, I was quickly submerged, drowning in the abundance of options. To make this simpler, I tried all the orange cheddar kinds I could get my hands on. I began with the American classic, Kraft. 

An intriguing course of action with a sense of mystery. The mystery being why it is banned in so many countries like the UK, New Zealand and many parts of Europe.  I made the original flavor which had a nice tang to it. It definitely had a processed taste, though I can’t complain; Often that creates the best comfort food. Although, it’s nutrition label tells a story of an unfortunately unhealthy meal. To be fair, mac and cheese isn’t exactly a meal for health gurus.

My next venture, was seasoned classic, Annie’s. Annie’s has a certain appeal Kraft can’t offer. Annie’s markets itself as ‘homegrown’ and ‘organic and natural’. I tried the classic cheddar mac and cheese. I was enthused by the perfect combination of artificial/processed flavoring and wholesome, natural flavors. It’s nutrition label was certainly better than Kraft’s, but as I said before, mac and cheese isn’t a particularly healthy meal to begin with. 

I refuse to speak about the smaller local supermarket brand mac and cheese as they were horrid and I couldn’t fathom more than a bite.

All in all, Continental’s mac and cheese takes the cake! Tried and true, it is fast to make and creates a flavor explosion of classic, beautiful mac and cheese. If I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life, I’d gladly eat just this. The only issue is it’s not commonly sold in the USA. In fact, I could only find it through Amazon.com but carried a whopping delivery fee. But, every cent is worth it. 

I wasn’t too fond of the American brands, but would buy again with the nugget that I would probably get sick of the same bland flavors. If you want good local mac and cheese, I recommend Nordstrom Cafe’s mac and cheese. Specifically the one at Washington Square Mall. The other Nordstrom cafe’s I’ve tried do not do the dishes justice. However, this location is on its game. Almost as great as my international mac and cheese.

Overall, I don’t exactly have words of wisdom. Mac and cheese is a great dish and quite frankly the chefs who do it poorly aren’t really ‘real’ chefs. So whether it’s from a box in your pantry or on it’s way to you in a huge shipping crate, make it right.

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