Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Macaroni and cheese on the menu


JAZ
 Share

Recommended Posts

Until about three years ago, I lived my entire life in the Western US. Growing up, we ate macaroni and cheese fairly often, and always as a main course. My friends' mothers served it as a main course. When I went to college, the dining hall served macaroni and cheese as a main course (for lunch, not dinner -- but still as a main course).

Imagine my surprise when I moved to Atlanta, where macaroni and cheese is treated as a side dish.

On the one hand, I guess I can understand that -- it's a starch; there's no meat in it; you could look at it as a pasta version of cheesy mashed potatoes. On the other hand, it's impossible for me to forget my past. I still think of it as a main course.

I suppose I'm more inclined to accept a stovetop version as a side dish, but once you put it into a gratin dish and bake it, I go back to my original view.

Is this a geographical difference? Cultural? Is it only a Southern thing? Is there a difference between "main course" and "side dish" macaroni and cheese?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was very happy to discover quite recently that it could be a side dish. Hubby would never allow that it could be a meal but happily accepts a side of mac n cheese - usually a gussied up version cooked and served in a small gratin dish.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I spent my formative years in San Diego, a part of Southern :wink: California, and it's always been considered a side dish by my family. :biggrin:

Adding meat to it would raise it to the level of a main dish. Then, of course, it wouldn't just be a main dish but would be considered a casserole and most casseroles are considered mains.

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It was always a main dish for us (from Atlanta and Nashville), but then we didn't have a lot of money and often skipped meat (we were vegetarians before vegetarianism was cool). We never had it for company, who would definitely have been looking around for the "something barbequed or deep fat fried."

I still consider it a main dish, but I usually do add a bit of meat (so I no longer associate it with being poor).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Something that just occurred to me is that we used to have this on Fridays, back in the days when Catholics were supposed to abstain from meat on that day. We kids weren't big fish fans back then, so it was probably a good alternative for my Mom.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Always a main dish in our house (Phoenix, AZ, one parent from NJ and one from SoCal). And a delicious one at that. MMMMMM.

Basil endive parmesan shrimp live

Lobster hamster worchester muenster

Caviar radicchio snow pea scampi

Roquefort meat squirt blue beef red alert

Pork hocs side flank cantaloupe sheep shanks

Provolone flatbread goat's head soup

Gruyere cheese angelhair please

And a vichyssoise and a cabbage and a crawfish claws.

--"Johnny Saucep'n," by Moxy Früvous

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't believe I ever ate macaroni and cheese until I was over 40--not the instant stuff or home-made. My mother never made it, and until I had my daughter at 40, it never occurred to me to learn how. Then I discovered how yummy it can be. A lot of people resort to Kraft if they have kids, and in a way I can sort of see the appeal of that intense artificial cheesiness. Kind of like Cheetos. It's its own weird thing. My SIL used to buy Annie's for her kids under the impression that it was "more natural" than Kraft. They are both horrid, and Annies has even more salt, if that's possible. Luckily my daughter was willing eat my homemade version. Some kids are not so flexible.

Since I came to it so late and have no traditions, it surprises me that it could ever be considered either a main or a side, but not commonly both. Also not very flexible! The night I make it we typically eat it as a main, with a salad or a veg on the side. Made with grown-up cheese and served with a fresh tomato soup for a starter it makes a dynamite veg meal.

There are always leftovers for the next night, and that's when mac 'n' cheese becomes a side dish chez moi.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A side and almost always for me, when available, complimented by a side of greens.  Both sides embellishing something barbecued or deep fat fried.

Awfully Southern sounding for a Philadelphia boy...

Mom was from Alabama, but we always ate it as a main -- possibly because she came from a relatively poor background.

Edited by Busboy (log)

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Growing up in VA and NC, I've always had macaroni and cheese as a side dish. Just to show how ingrained this is, when I used to inspect day care homes and vet menus for the USDA, no matter how many times I reminded them, every month someone would have a meal disqualified because they counted mac n cheese as a 'vegetable'! :biggrin:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Definitely a side here in the midwest, unless you're in college and feeling too rich for Ramen and add some sliced hot dogs to your box of Kraft. OR if it's about 2am and you happen to remember you have a bunch of your tried and true homemade baked mac n' cheese left in the fridge.....then it's not only a main dish, it's a twelve course Chef's Tour!

Jerry

Kansas City, Mo.

Unsaved Loved Ones

My eG Food Blog- 2011

Link to comment
Share on other sites

:cool:

If I make it at home, with my own choice of three cheeses and my own white sauce and herbs and nicely cooked penne rigate, the first serving is as a main, with a cooked green and/or a green salad. The leftovers go into a fridge-to-oven baking dish with a chunk or two or three of good baked ham and a splash of white wine, and extra shredded cheese and herbs go on top. That will be a main dish in a day or two or three.

Baked apples make a wonderful dessert, with cinnamon/sugar and raisins inside. These are winter meals all the way, though, and I'm not thinking in these directions with the lilacs in bloom now...

:biggrin:

Me, I vote for the joyride every time.

-- 2/19/2004

Link to comment
Share on other sites

YES!!!

We eat it as both here. Just depends on how we are feeling here that day.

Wife's family is from Virginia and I am Cajun from South Louisiana.

Dwight

If at first you succeed, try not to act surprised.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Growing up in the 50's Mom made it as both but Dad put the stops to the Main Dish game when Mom discovered the boxed stuff. My folks were raised in the coal fields of Ky and Tenn.

I, as an adult, have treated it as a main dish.

I add, We consider it as fine comfort food. Add a green salad and feast.

Robert

Seattle

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In my family (in farm-country Missouri) we eat it as a main dish only for lunch and on Fridays in Lent. My brothers will eat it any time they get a chance, but as a family for meals, it's generally a side dish and mixed with some vegetable (broccoli, red peppers, etc).

"Life is a combination of magic and pasta." - Frederico Fellini

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Back when we were in highschool, we used to make the Kraft version as a snack. Mom only served it as a side, even when she made her own from scratch. There is a restaurant in Santa Fe, Celebrations, that serves it with shrimp as a main course. I love it and would eat it as a side or main anyday!

KathyM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In england it would always be considered a main, pasta would never be seen as a side dish here but i in the carribean they have macaroni pie which is essentially the same thing as mac n cheese and i seem to remember that being served as a side

"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...