As you may know, I recently embarked upon my annual voyage to the Americas to recharge my expatteries and soak up some ‘Merican culchur (eh hem, read: “American culture”). Of course, this primarily consisted of inappropriate portions of high quality Mexican food, REAL hamburgers with excessive amounts of ripe Hass avocados, and 8-10 frozen margaritas per day.
Most of the time, I really am a foodie kinda gal. I appreciate fresh, local ingredients. I don’t ever eat fast food. And I stay away from most packaged or processed foods in general. I do have a confession, though.
There is one food item that I’m pretty sure they must have coated with cocaine when I was little… it is my and many other children of the 80s’ go-to comfort food as soon as we step in the door of Mom’s house. There’s something about that pouch of powdery chemicals and food coloring that just calls out to us.
That’s right, you got it. Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. A classic.
Now, I realize that some of you Americans out there may be from Velveeta families. I would simply say to you… No. You’re wrong. the one true original source of cheesy goodness is Kraft.
When my marito and I met back in Australia 6 years ago, we had a somewhat serious incident regarding this little blue box. Early on in the relationship my American roommate and I were caught partaking in a box of goodness that had come our way via an excellent care package from the States (this was before shipping packages internationally became a thing of wealthy dreams).
He inquired as to what on earth we were so excited about eating, and we immediately started in with the caveats:
“You’re Italian, you really don’t want to know what’s happening over here. Go away.” (He persisted.)
“Well, we know it’s crap, but we grew up on it!” (He started reading the ingredient list.)
“It’s like a baby blanket – it’s a major comfort food that reminds us of home. Leave us alone!” (He did not.)
“It could be worse; it could be Velveeta!” (We’d already lost him at this point.)
He stormed around the apartment, screaming, “No! No! No! Assolutely no! Ma daaaaiiii, porco dio, come mangiano questa merda… questi americani… cazzo…”
We didn’t care. Since it only takes 5 minutes to make, we were already fully emerged in nostalgic memories of home. He watched in horror as we slurped down what can only be described as the greatest bastardization of Italian food anywhere in the world. When we were done he took me by the arm into the other room and sat me down for a serious talk. He told me this was unacceptable behavior, but that he understands the need to remember the food of one’s childhood. He said the following day he was going to make me REAL macaroni con quatro formaggi (macaroni with four cheeses), so that I could see the error of my ways.
I don’t really know what he expected. I mean… OF COURSE his macaroni was much much better than the Kraft version. Of course!
Did that change my feelings towards the blue box?
I don’t think he understands the significance that this box had on my early life. I mean, when they changed the graphics, my whole generation nearly had a heart attack and started questioning our own identity.
So a couple of months later, when my then boyfriend returned to Italy for Christmas, He forbade me from having any in his absence. To be clear, I was left alone to my own devices for a month… of course another incident occurred.
I was having a really stressful day. Really! This crazy ass bitch was stalking me because she thought that I was “the American whore” sleeping with her boyfriend, who apparently occupied that apartment before me (ahhhh, student days, I remember you well). I couldn’t do any grocery shopping because I was afraid she’s murder me (she in fact waited outside my door until I called the police). And there was this one little lonely box of Mac n’ Cheese left over from the pre-ban days.
So I ate it.
I mean, how would he know? And he’s half joking anyway, right?
Now here was my mistake. At the time I was working in between classes as a nanny for a Dutch-American family in Sydney. The little girl and I were working on the alphabet, and to teach her the letters, I had come up with this great game where we would cut out letters from cardboard boxes and put them in jars dedicated to each letter. She loved it. She loved it so much that I was constantly searching for cardboard boxes with big letters on them so she had something to cut out.
I neatly flattened the box and set it on my bathroom counter so that the next morning I wouldn’t forget to take it with me. The next morning, however, I missed my alarm and all hell broke loose. I was running around like crazy trying to get out the door in time for classes and work and I didn’t even think twice about the box on my counter.
I went to class. I went to work. And then I went to the airport to pick up my boyfriend.
We returned to the apartment. We put down the bags. And he said, “Oddio, I must to take a pee since Abu Dahbi!” (His English used to be so cute). With that, he entered the bathroom.
It was like that slow motion scene where the realization dawns across my face and I start screaming, “Noooooooooooooo!”
He comes out of the bathroom, blue box in hand and smoke pouring out of his ears. “What is ZIS?!”
After a lengthy discussion about the perceived seriousness of this issue for both parties, in which it was evident that this was MUCH more important to him than to me, he set an ultimatum. He said, “It’s me or the macaroni. You decide.”
And that’s the last time I had Kraft Mac n’ Cheese.
it’s the last time I left the box out. 🙂