Thursday, November 8, 2012

Macaroni Love

Sometimes things get stuck in your cranium. Well, mine anyway. The things vary --it might be a passage of music or snippet of lyrics, odd phrase, snatch of fragrance from a passing co-worker that lodges in my sinuses, a memory of a flavor or food texture -- pleasant or otherwise.

It can strike with sudden ferociousness, like when I'm at my desk pushing around papers with lots of headache-inducing banking regulatory language and suddenly it pops into my head that I need mashed potatoes, which will be stuck in my mind for as long as it takes to either procure and devour mashed potatoes or forget that I wanted them. Sometimes, it's more subtle -- overhearing someone talk about ice cream on Monday, seeing an ice cream ad Tuesday, then slipping into a full-blown ice cream craving on Wednesday, even though dairy is not always my friend and stuffs up my sinuses.

Many a morning I have  awoken with a song stuck in my head -- the past few weeks it's been Barenaked Ladies crooning the theme music from Big Bang Theory. Lately, I drift off to sleep to and endless loop "Heart and Soul" from the new iPad Mini commercial.

Sometimes, a food craving can be triggered by actually eating it. The most recent addiction was instigated during a Satruday lunch at the Old Chicago pizza bar. I've known OF the lunchtime pizza bar for years, but ordered it only once, a couple years ago. About ten minutes into raking leaves, my mind was wandering and I started thinking about lunch. After checking in with a friend and considering Korean food (our usual) we made plans to shake things up and meet at Old Chicago for the lunch pizza bar.

I'm not sure if the pizza bar has the same things all the time, but that particular day there were pepperoni, vegetarian, and ham and pineapple pizzas set out, plus garlic bread sticks and marinara. And macaroni and cheese. I was there for the pizza, but the macaroni intrigued me -- pale, long, loose curls of macaroni in a creamy sauce. I took a small scoop. It was good. It tasted like more. I went back. The mac and cheese bowl had been replaced with another pizza. Sad face.

Immediately upon leaving Old Chicago, I was already thinking about having the macaroni and cheese again. On Sunday, I was still thinking about it. Based on my obsessive food history, I figured the best way to handle it was to tackle it head on. I hit the recipe box and visited the pasta reserves in the pantry, where there is almost always an array of pasta shapes and sizes suitable for capturing sauces, swimming in soups and baking in casseroles.

The recipe I used is good, but nowhere as tasty as the other one I have that calls for five types of cheese, nor as creamy as the stuff at Old Chicago. I didn't have five types of cheeses (only two) and was too lazy to look up a creamy recipe. Because I live alone, that 8-inch square baking dish of my dense mac and cheese has fed me for five days now. Lunch tomorrow should (thankfully) finish it off and I suspect it will be a while before I'll be loving macaroni and cheese again. I hope.

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