bowl-of-mac-and-cheeseMacaroni and cheese – a simple concept. Cook the macaroni and then bake it with cheese. Which introduced the crust concept of macaroni and cheese (heretofore referred to as mac and cheese). Everyone was happy. The variation came in the kind of cheese used. Deluxe mac and cheese came about by adding more than one cheese. But it was still mac and cheese.

Then Kraft came out with mac and cheese packages. There was no reason to measure ingredients anymore. Cook the noodles and then add the cheese packet. Pretty much the way it always was. Velveeta got in the game, but the basics were still the same. Now you have individual bowls for single servings. But it’s still mac and cheese.

Then restaurants began to take advantage of the popularity of mac and cheese. It was cheap to make. They thought maybe if they added a bunch of crap and called it deluxe or gourmet mac and cheese, they could charge $8 a serving. And they were totally confused. They forgot one simple thing – which I will get back to.

Schotzsky’s made the more recent foray into the mac and cheese world. They have four new mac and cheese dinners. Actually three, with a variation on the third. One has chicken, one has shrimp, and two have brisket – albeit all with different extra ingredients. They have continually had sales and deals on the dinners, so it would seem that the options were not all that popular.

I need to say, however, that I eat Schotzsky’s sandwiches almost every Monday. Cyndy and I enjoy the Pick 2, the salads, and the flatbread options. But we will not have the mac and cheese dishes. Regardless of the coupons I receive by email. Obviously it is not because their food is not good.

I saw a commercial the other day from Red Lobster that mentioned a lobster and mac and cheese dish. Are you freaking kidding me? As Cyndy said , it might be palatable with a white sauce. But, seeing the commercial again, it was “regular” mac and cheese.

I’m amazed at the confusion that created all these dishes in the first place. What led them to completely misunderstand the name of the dish? It is as simple as anything could be. It worked really well for over 50 years. No one had any problem with it. Children loved it and it could keep them from yelling for food for a period of time.

Then restaurants decided – does this sound familiar – that if they added ingredients they could charge for a “gourmet” dish. It didn’t matter that the ingredients had nothing to do with mac and cheese. Forget the fact that you would taste little of the original mac and cheese. Our son, Cameron, had one of the Schotzsky’s mac and cheese dishes and threw half of it away.

Here is the one thing they all forgot or ignored. And that is the name and basics of the dish. It is macaroni and cheese. It is, has been, and always will be, a two ingredient dish – whether it’s a main course or side dish. You can have almost anything with mac and cheese – on the side. To add ingredients in order to make it “gourmet” and charge more money is a bastardization of the original dish.

If you have not reached this conclusion by now, here it is. The dish is macaroni and cheese. Just to be clear, the ingredients are macaroni and cheese. To call it gourmet would be with more than one kind of cheese. But the ingredients are still – say it with me – macaroni and cheese. I don’t understand the confusion.

Peace be with you.