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If it's not Kraft it's not Parmesan


CtznCane
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Okay, okay, so you're up in arms a bit. Down deep though, for those of us who were kids in the late 50's and 60's, Kraft and Parmesan go together. Kraft Parmesan cheese is darned near as American as Baseball and Hot Dogs. Growing up we only faintly heard about Parmigiano Reggiano, and did not hear of Grana Padano, and Asiago. Romano we were familiar enough with too though since Kraft made Romano cheese as well. Still, to those of hear in the states (and it may still hold true) if you mentioned the word "Parmesan" people thought of Kraft.

Fortunately, in the early 70's I learned about Parmigiano Reggiano and I was, for quite awhile cured of my former passion for Kraft Parmesan. Through the years I've learned to enjoy other Italian Cheeses as well as Cheeses from many other places as well. I must say that I thoroughly enjoy these cheeses and appreciate them to no end.

Recently, a few months back, perhaps influenced by walking by the display for so long, I found myself looking wantonly at the display of hat jarred Kraft Parmesan Cheese. Maybe it was the updated packaging and not that cardboard like container that looked like a can of Comet that made it so intriguing. Whatever it was, I couldn't resist any longer and I bought a jar. In fact I bought 2 jars. I wasn't sure just how soon I'd use it but I knew I just had to have it.

It didn't take me long to make a plate of pasta, just with some garlic and olive oil and annoint it with my Kraft Parmesan. My goodness, what had I been missing? No, it may not be classy, perhaps not politically correct amongs foodies, and certainly offensive to the snobs of the food world who wouldn't consider calling anything American 'parmesan' (of course these same folks get pissy when one calls a sparkling wine a champagne as well) yet for many of us (taking the liberty) Kraft really does, based on our childhoods mean Parmesan cheese to us. Besides that, it still, after all these years tastes good.

No, I'm not going to substitute Kraft for Parmigiano Reggiano in my pesto or other Italian dishes but I am going back to using it frequently on spaghetti and other pastas at times. One dish, for which one must use Kraft Parmesan on though is Chilli. That Italian stuff just doesn't stand up to the Kraft on a good bowl of Chilli. Green Bean Casserole, Best Foods Mayo, Tuna Noodle Casserole with crushed potato chip topping, jello salad, and the like. COmfort foods, real foods, foods of our youth. Add to that Kraft Parmesan cheese, when it comes down to those familiar staples, certainly Kraft Parmesan was right up near the top of the list.

It's time to admit and own up to our passions, to come out of the closet, throw away our food correctness and say, yeah, think parmesan? Think Kraft.

Charles a food and wine addict - "Just as magic can be black or white, so can addictions be good, bad or neither. As long as a habit enslaves it makes the grade, it need not be sinful as well." - Victor Mollo

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I grew up using Kraft parmesan, and while I don't use it anymore, I do buy the big bags of parmesan at Costco to use in certain things. Kraft parmesan works well in certain applications like mixing with bread crumbs for a crumb topping on gratins etc, and on top of hassleback potatoes as it browns nicely.

Now you've got me craving this:

plate of pasta, just with some garlic and olive oil and annoint it with my Kraft Parmesan.
:hmmm:

Marlene

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I'll give it this - it's easy. When you're feeling truly lazy and don't want to wash any more dishes than you have to, it's a good substitute. Plus, when you're seriously poor and can't afford the "real" stuff, it's not a bad alternative.

I liken it to fresh v. dried spices.

“There is no sincerer love than the love of food.”

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Green Cylinder Confessions:

Spaghetti - Kraft

Canned Minestrone - Kraft

Pizza - Yes, Kraft

Mom kept it on the table with other condiments, so we had the opportunity to utilize it in my youth. Mom had a penchant for Hamuburger Helper Stroganoff "flavor" in my youth. If not for the Kraft, I would have never been able to choke it down. I have never bought a box of Hamburger Helper into my household. I think Mom broke me of that in my youth.

The other hard cheeses are in rotation here, but the Kraft truly does lend itself to certain foods. I am fonder of the Parmesan than I am of the orange stuff in the mac and cheese box, to be honest with you.

There is a place and a time for everything.

:biggrin:

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I call is Parmasorta...

No, it's not for when the cheese is the star of the dish. It's good for many "Italian American" dishes, where you have the thick sweet tomato sauce, or soups or anything that does not lean on the cheese for it's main flavor. If it needs to be a little saltier, or needs a little something to become better, the green can has it's place.

Screw it. It's a Butterball.
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I don't have it around right now but grew up with it. What I liked about it was that unlike the real thing (and scary as this is) you could dose your pasta at the table and mix it all around (my parents put the blank pasta in the bowl and ladled on sauce) and it wouldn't melt into clumps.

It always seems more resilient than the real thing and sometimes that's good I guess.

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Grandmas soup dumplings - has to be the bottled cheese parm/romano blend ....

2 handfulls cheese, an egg, handfull of flour, and pepper makes a stiff dumpling dough ...littles pinches into boiling soup

tracey

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I'd like to commiserate ... I really would ... :unsure:

But the first time I saw freshly grated Parmeggiano Reggiano hit the hot pasta and instantly melt, I was hooked for life.

I will use the stuff in the green can, but it's usually if I am at someone else's home and that is all they have.

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I'm not a snob, I swear... I've never eaten foie gras, and I don't really aspire to it...but when I was growing up, my mom would dump this stuff on everything even remotely tomatoey, without asking if I wanted any. This means, every pizza that ever sat on our table got covered with Kraft Parmesan, wholesale.

I grew up thinking I *hated* parmesan, romano, and any of the aged cheeses. Only in my mid 20s did I give the real block stuff a chance, because my husband liked it and begged me to try it...and it wasn't foul. It acted like cheese. It melted, and enhanced certain flavors. I can now eat parmesan, asagio, romano, etc, shredded, and gently applied to certain foods.

I really, genuinely, couldn't stand the canned stuff, hated the flavor, saltiness, granularity. If that's what parmesan cheese is, then I still hate parmesan cheese.

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I grew up with 4C parm (a step up from kraft, imo) but for the last... 8 years or so I've been only buying/using Parmigiano Reggiano. About a month ago, I noticed Walmart had a phenomenal price on the 4C parm, so I gave it shot. Nasty!! I still have it in my fridge- at some point I'll just toss it as I'm sure I'll never use it.

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I'm not a snob, I swear

I totally agree with you. And while fresh Reggiano and Kraft or 4C are polar opposites, there are some products in between. There is really no reason whatsoever to use that horrible green can. Reminiscing about one's youth is one thing (like spaghetti and ketchup) but that doesn't mean that we can't know better now.

Most supermarket deli departments now have some recently-grated cheese, parmesan, romano, or similar, in a 1 pint plastic container. Locatelli is one of the brands here in the Northeast, but there are several brands, and from time to time they are on sale. While not like a fresh grated Reggiano, they are an acceptable substitute and worlds above that Kraft stuff. I don't think that American food means settling for a poor, inferior product.

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Kraft Parmesan tastes like grated salty wax, not cheese. It ruins the flavor a good pasta dish.

Frankly, pre-grated Parmignano Reggiano doesn't taste that great either. Nobody, the Italians included, use top quality cheese to pre-grate.

Edited by Craig Camp (log)
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First Miracle Whip, now this.

I'll own up to loving Miracle Whip--next to salt, it's the best thing to put on a fresh ripe tomato--and if you go over to the "Dinner!" thread and go back about 30 pages or so, you will see that I can turn Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Dinner into a thing of beauty.

My partner loves Hamburger Helper, too, and it's certainly convenient when I'm feeling very lazy.

But even though I grew up with it, too, I draw the line at Kraft Parmesan ever since discovering real grated Parmesan cheese. No, I won't refuse to use it if that's all that's available, and if my wallet's depleted, then I'll buy 4C in the glass jar. But if I can afford it, I much prefer the genuine article that melts when it hits the sauce.

On popcorn, you all should try Cabot Cheddar Shake sometime.

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First Miracle Whip, now this.

I'll own up to loving Miracle Whip--next to salt, it's the best thing to put on a fresh ripe tomato--and if you go over to the "Dinner!" thread and go back about 30 pages or so, you will see that I can turn Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Dinner into a thing of beauty.

My partner loves Hamburger Helper, too, and it's certainly convenient when I'm feeling very lazy.

But even though I grew up with it, too, I draw the line at Kraft Parmesan ever since discovering real grated Parmesan cheese.  No, I won't refuse to use it if that's all that's available, and if my wallet's depleted, then I'll buy 4C in the glass jar.  But if I can afford it, I much prefer the genuine article that melts when it hits the sauce.

On popcorn, you all should try Cabot Cheddar Shake sometime.

The thing about Miracle Whip is that it is not fake mayonnaise, but a flavored one and, after all, it's not called mayonnaise. Kraft has the nerve to actually use the bastardized Anglicized version of a real food product with a controlled place name, Parmesan (Parmigiano).

Also, I don't believe that anybody or anything can turn that disgusting fake food product Kraft Macaroni and Cheese into something worth eating. Fake pasta, fake flavors and fake everything - I don't care how much real food you add to it plastic food is plastic food. Something to be avoided at all costs.

This is the same ugly argument - like you can make anything good by using Campbell's soup - that is the basis of the destruction of American cooking.

Let's be real here. There is no reason to use this fake crap when it is so easy to actually cook real fresh food.

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The first time I made Mr. Kim spaghetti, he asked for Parm. cheese. I said I had forgotten to buy cheese. He said, "don't you keep a can in the fridge all the time?" I said, "Oh, you mean Kraft? I have something that tastes the same as it." I went to the kitchen and got a grater and a cardboard cereal box and grated it directly over his spaghetti. He thanked me. Ate ALL of his meal and never, ever requested Kraft parm. again. :laugh:

How could I not marry a man who put up with such a bitch as that? :wub:

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Can anyone tell me why you would buy pre-grated Parmigiano Reggiano? How hard is it to grate a few ounces of cheese to put on your pasta? Also, if you buy chunks of Parmigiano Reggiano you can actually eat it, which is the best way to enjoy real Parmigiano, not as a simple condiment. If you can't eat of piece of it, why would you grate it up and put it on your food?

Edited by Craig Camp (log)
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Comfort food and childhood favorites have no logic. They just are.

Its possible to know something is "bad" food and still enjoy eating it.

I am endlessly amused by the self-righteous tone so often given to the factual statement that it only takes a couple minutes to do thus-and-such "right". Those couple minutes add up over the course of preparing a meal (2 min here for salad dressing, 2 min there to make the mayo for the dressing, 2 min to grate the cheese, blah blah blah).

These days, with 20 min from start to dinner on the table, I'm taking shortcuts I never dreamed possible 3 years ago. Pre-grated cheese, whether grated in bulk at home or the store, is a god-send.

Its been ages since I tasted green-can Kraft, so long I had no idea the packaging's been changed. Gotta go try some, and see how it measures up to memory and to which memory, the early childhood ones, when I first tasted Italian food, or the later ones when chunks of cheese were a staple. Without the green-can, I'd never have eaten spaghetti. It wasnt salty enough. So, it did me a favor and opened the door a crack to a whole new world. Nothing to vilify about that, IMO.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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Comfort food and childhood favorites have no logic. They just are.

Pre-grated cheese, whether grated in bulk at home or the store, is a god-send. 

Yes, that 30 seconds to grate fresh cheese on your dish is just too much in these busy times.

Yet if that's too much, why are we cooking at all? After all there is plenty of carry out, frozen food, prepared food and no shortage of microwaves.

...but I guess cooking fresh food simply and quickly instead of using these things is self-righteous.

Edited by Craig Camp (log)
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:unsure: I just can't handle the incessant guilt of keeping products in my kitchen that are looked down upon by the culinarati... I buy the wrong kind of chicken, I use the wrong kind of flour, even if I grated my own hand-made, organic, dry-aged, 3-year buffalo parmesan cheese over my imported semolina tortellini I'd find out that I'm not using the proper cheese grater. Some of us don't HAVE access to our own personal cheese monger. Some of us (me for instance) have to make some budgetary cuts in some culinary areas so once a week or so we can afford to have a really nice meal, with real ingredients and a drinkable wine to accompany it. And some of us LIKE our dry, granular, clumpy Kraft Parmesan/Romano cheese blend. Some of y'all eat guts and knuckles and feet and whatnots (though why anyone would EAT a whatnot, I'll never understand!), so don't you take my plastic container of ground cheese away from me...

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:unsure: I just can't handle the incessant guilt of keeping products in my kitchen that are looked down upon by the culinarati... I buy the wrong kind of chicken, I use the wrong kind of flour, even if I grated my own hand-made, organic, dry-aged, 3-year buffalo parmesan cheese over my imported semolina tortellini I'd find out that I'm not using the proper cheese grater. Some of us don't HAVE access to our own personal cheese monger. Some of us (me for instance) have to make some budgetary cuts in some culinary areas so once a week or so we can afford to have a really nice meal, with real ingredients and a drinkable wine to accompany it. And some of us LIKE our dry, granular, clumpy Kraft Parmesan/Romano cheese blend. Some of y'all eat guts and knuckles and feet and whatnots (though why anyone would EAT a whatnot, I'll never understand!), so don't you take my plastic container of ground cheese away from me...

The point is if you don't have access to quality ingredients why would you try to use those ingredients in your cooking? Everywhere you go there are excellent local ingredients to utilize. This is why in Italy the people in Calabria and Lombardia cook differently. It's not that they don't like each others foods, but the raw materials available to them are different and they cook accordingly. In the USA we insist on cooking every recipe from every country even if we don't have the right raw materials. This is the reason we feel forced to use inferior ingredients. In addition, local food is usually the cheapest, just check out your local farm stand and compare those prices to your local grocery. Not only is the farm stand cheaper, but the food tastes better.

I would suggest that your pasta is better off without cheese if the cheese available is not good or is too expensive.

When it comes to wine it is far easier to find wonderful wine at reasonable prices than it is to find top quality Parmigiano in the USA.

It is not an issue of guilt, but a thought process. You should look at the raw materials available first then look for a recipe, not the other way around.

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