Hippie Squared: Macaroni Superstar

Yes, it’s only from a box. But the classic, Kraft Dinner-style, bright, nearly radioactive orange mac ‘n’ cheese is a sensual treasure and a deep comfort. Properly prepared, it’s a fallen beauty elevated anew in this cardboard modern world—a redemption of the cheap and commercial.

First you boil the water, until the lid of the pot clatters a tin discordant improv. You pull out a few little tubes of macaroni, with a slotted spoon, run just a dash of cold water over them; put them to your lips, test them. Bite down gently, slurp them into your mouth and chew. You’re looking for al dante—not too soft, not too firm—the firmness of an aroused nipple held gently between loving teeth.

When it’s like that, just right, you dump it in the colander, then back into the pot.

The art is in the mix of butter, milk and cheese. First carve off little chunks of butter, stir them into the still-steaming macaroni, until it’s uniformly coated, until it shines, until rivulets of yellow butter swim at the bottom.

Time to add in the cheese. One can’t stress enough the delicacy of this. Don’t dump it all in at once. Sprinkle about a third of the contents of the cheese envelope over the buttered macaroni. Then add a dollop of milk, and stir. Listen to the sound of the stirring, the squishiness of it, as the noodles slide against each other and around the pot and tumble over each other.

Continue to add cheese and milk, alternating, careful that you aim for creamy, but not milky or watery, and not too dry.

Luscious, is what you’re after. The perfect balance that would make Goldilocks exclaim, “Just right!” at the creamy orange goodness of it, the lip-smacking squishiness of it, the bursting bloom of bright orange cheese on her tongue.

I prefer mine with a good beer. A faintly orange pale ale, perhaps.

Variations for the adventurous:

1. Parmo: leave the mixture a little milky after you add the full contents of the cheese envelope. Then add some parmesan cheese to bring it to the right balance of creaminess. The parmesan lends an extra tang and fullness to the cheese flavor.

2. Tabasco: for a little extra spice in your life, a little extra sharpness for your tongue, dash in a splash of tabasco sauce. Not for the faint of heart.