Mac n cheese. It conjures up memories of childhood events at my grandmothers townhouse in Annapolis. The adults gathered around the polished dining table over glasses of red wine. Ham biscuits, green salads, cheese casseroles set glistening on silver platters and wooden trays. The kids watched all of this from the tiny kitchen where we sat in eager anticipation of our boxed / canned dinner.
I have a vivid memory of my grandmother simmering mac n cheese and spaghetti-O’s on her electric stove, her hair bobbed and perfectly coifed. Her deep red lipstick glittering in the yellowish light of the single kitchen lightbulb. The scent of hairspray and perfume filling the kitchen and mingling with the scent of powdered cheese and/or ketchup-like meatball sauce. My brother, cousins and I were fiends for Kraft & Chef Boyardee everything. And we only ever got it at these sorts of events. When the grown ups wanted some time to themselves to kibitz over family drama.
I grew out of my packaged food cravings around 15, thank god. But mac n cheese holds a special place in all of our hearts, doesn’t it? It represents some level of childhood autonomy con motherly love. Mom buys the mac, we make the mac. Then we feel like a friggin genius if we put something fancy in it like… pepper. My 13 year old self was pretty proud of that one.
Fast forward to me as a yogi chick who eats things like hemp hearts and avocado toast and tamari sautéed kale. My disdain for the boxed and canned “food” of my childhood cannot be quantified. But that doesn’t stop me from wanting to eat mac n cheese. What’s a dairy free, gluten free babe to do?
Make vegan sweet potato mac n cheese. That’s what.