You don’t have to be a foodie fad follower to know that the recent trend toward fusing comfort foods with high-end ingredients has been a major success. From house-made Pogos, to gourmet meatloaf, to artisan doughnuts, the comeback of some of our fave childhood foods has excited young professional (YP) diners – and we’re eating (and instagramming) our hungry little hearts out. At the top of that nostalgic menu, of course, is ooey gooey, rich and creamy, mac and cheese. Why has the simple dish blown up more than most? Here are 9 notable reasons:
1. Nostalgia: We’re starting to feel old, and mac and cheese reminds us of the good ol’ days; the days of coming home from school and pounding a bowl of Ninja Turtle-shaped KD… while watching Ninja Turtles.
2. There’s something for everyone: From five-star to 50 cents, mac and cheese can now be found at top restos, served with swanky cheeses and hipster fixings, as well as way in the back of our cupboards, forever ready and waiting to be magically turned into food. Whatever your budget, palate, or mood, there is now a mac and cheese for you.
3. Gourmet spots like to serve it “stinky”: And that makes us feels fancy.
4. It’s always a hit: Serving “mature” mac and cheese at your next dinner party will impress the annoying picky eaters as well as uppity highbrow diners alike. Your epic meal will be Instagram-famous for sure.
5. Cheese: Whether it’s gourmet Gruyere, artificial orange, or eco-friendly vegan, everyone loves cheese. We love it on top of stuff. Especially carbs. Especially elbow-shaped carbs.
6. It’s classic hangover food: It’s greasy and warm, rich and salty, and just like in the old days of recovering from the chicken pox or flu, our tummies still love it. Nowadays, after a long night of liquid-induced self abuse, it still makes us feel so much better.
7. It’s quick and easy: Truffle-infused fettuccini alfredo with slow-cooked pulled pork and fiddlehead puree: ain’t nobody got time for that! Mac and cheese can be made with as little as water and a microwave (though we don’t really recommend it). Whether boiling, baking or nuking, creating a quality mac and cheese doesn’t take much time, talent, or materials.
8. It’s non-controversial: Everyone’s got an opinion about food these days. While we all sit around debating the legitimacy of gluten-free this and caveman diet that, it’s nice to know that mac and cheese remains a trusted and timeless dish. A simple mix of simple ingredients, mac and cheese isn’t looking to hurt anyone’s feelings or show anyone up. Whether served as a side dish or a main course, mac and cheese is cool – game for whatever
9. But yes, it can be modified: On the other hand, adding organic veggies, substituting soy cheese, using quinoa pasta, loading it with metabolism-boosting hot sauce, etc. can also morph mac and cheese into a low-carb, lactose-free, vegetarian health food. If you’re into that kind of thing.
Thanks to celeb YP chef “Chef Rob” for his consultation on this important matter.