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History and Information on Macaroni and Cheese

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  • History and Information on Macaroni and Cheese

    We'd love to get some information about the history of macaroni and cheese. We're also looking for any fun facts or tidbits about macaroni and cheese that you may be able to share. Thank you!

  • #2
    Macaroni and cheese can be considered a colonial American dish. Some historians say macaroni and cheese was a recipe brought over to the USA from England based on Genovese sailors introducing it there. Originally, it was macaroni baked with cheese and milk. However, at the time, macaroni was mostly imported, because there was no Durum wheat in the USA. Accordingly, it was expensive, mostly enjoyed by the upper class.

    Food writer Corby Kummer in a piece titled "Pasta" published in the July 1986 issue of The Atlantic magazine shared a similar view, and stated, "Macaroni came to America with the English, who served it baked with cheese and cream, as was also popular in the north of Italy, and in rich sweet baked custards."

    About the time of the American Civil War, there was a recipe (spelled receipts) for macaroni and cheese in the popular and widely circulated women's magazine called Godey’s Lady’s Book:

    "Boil the maccaroni in milk; put in the stewpan butter, cheese, and seasoning; when melted, pour into the maccaroni, putting breadcrums over, which brown before the fire all together."

    By the time of the Civil War, pasta factories started to appear in the USA, and macaroni became more available and affordable. As noted by the above recipe, macaroni and cheese also evolved as an American dish, while other traditional Italian pasta dishes had more limited popularity.

    In the 1986 article "Pasta", Kummer also stated, "In 1927 Kraft began marketing grated "Parmesan" cheese in a cardboard container with a perforated top and suggested that the cheese be served as a topping for spaghetti with tomato sauce." This approach for selling pasta was highly innovative as the box with both macaroni and a cheese pouch offered the consumer a complete meal in a box.

    It should also be noted that spaghetti and meatballs, chili-mac and rippled edge lasagna are also American pasta dishes.

    Here is a recipe for macaroni and cheese from a 1980s recipe card from the White House:

    President Reagan's Favorite Macaroni and Cheese

    ½ lb. macaroni
    1 t. dry mustard
    1 t. butter
    3 C. grated cheese, sharp
    1 egg, beaten
    1 C. milk
    1 t. salt

    Boil macaroni in water until tender and drain thoroughly. Stir in butter and egg. Mix mustard and salt with 1 tablespoon hot water and add milk. Add cheese leaving enough to sprinkle on top. Pour into buttered casserole, add milk, sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until custard is set and top is crusty.
    Last edited by MachineBuilder; 10-19-2018, 08:05 PM.