Mac and cheese, my old enemy, we meet again.

Photo courtesy of Jspatchwork on Flickr.
Actually, I can’t believe how many pictures there are of mac and cheese on Flickr. People love it so much that they’re taking photos of it. Gross.

I cannot say it loud enough: I hate mac and cheese.

Hate it. Detest it. Loathe it in the way some people shy away from rats or snakes or spiders. I don’t like spiders either but give me a choice between a house spider and a bowl of Kraft and I’ll take the spider every time.

I realize this places me in a very small subset of humanity. Most people not only like mac and cheese, they adore it. That’s weird to me. How can you like ingesting a bowl of slimy, orange-yellow noodles covered in fake-cheese?

As a child, I honestly thought that it was only my brother who loved mac and cheese, because he was my brother and therefore a weirdo. Anyhow, as my  brother, I expected that he’d love all the things I hated, just to be difficult.

But then I went away to college.

Lo and behold, everyone there was stocking up on mac and cheese , eating it on rainy days and singing its damn praises. I’d done a pretty good job of avoiding mac and cheese  up until that point, but it was  everywhere in my dorm. In my room. In the hall garbage can. Dishes caked with the orange residue of mac and cheese clogged the bathroom sinks. Microwaves smelled of it. It was like being in a Kraft horror movie. All of a sudden I realized that my brother was not the weird one. I was the freak show. It became clear that I was The Only Mac & Cheese Hater in The World.

Oh come off it, you might be saying. So you didn’t like a food and a lot of other people like it. Get over yourself.

Am I being a big baby about this one particular food? Oh yes. Completely. I choose to be stoic about other things I don’t like: violence, chicken soup, traffic, fires. But the smell of macaroni and cheese? It makes my gorge rise.

My hatred of mac and cheese was so bad when I was a kid that my mother, an Irish-Italian matriarch of the Clean Your Plate vintage, wouldn’t make me eat it if she was serving it for dinner.

This isn’t to say that the poor woman didn’t try to overcome my mac and cheese aversions. At first she took my dislike as a challenge. She and my dad figured okay, I hated Kraft Mac and Cheese, let’s make this kid some real macaroni and cheese from scratch before she develops a phobia. (If you’ve read this far, you know that approach didn’t work.)

They made scores of recipes. Some had meat in them. Some had vegetables. All of them had cheeses I liked in different dishes. Some were baked. Some not.  I remember thinking that one dish in particular was tolerable, so my mother made it again, but the second time I had a very hard time choking it down.

My father tried to reason with me, based on my love of Italian food. “Ann,” he said, “you like lazy lasagna.* Lazy lasagna has both macaroni and cheese in it.”

I chose not to hear this, but even so, it made me suspicious of any noodle not covered in tomato sauce.

In the end, my parents gave up, and I was allowed not to eat mac and cheese at dinner, which was a great relief.
I guessed that as I grew up  and moved out into the world, I’d meet other mac and cheese haters and we’d form our own little mac and cheese haters’ club, but that was not the case. Because apparently the rest of humanity loves it some Kraft.

By the time I was out of school, I was afraid that I’d be turning down mac and cheese for the rest of my life, trying to suppress the awful faces my inner child wants to make at the site of the dish, when I was served a big piece of luck: when I was 25, I was diagnosed as being intolerant to both gluten and lactose. Hallelujah! I sure missed eating pizza, but it was worth it, because now no one would expect me to eat mac and cheese.

But recently, gluten-free technology caught up with me.

Right now, there are a bunch of mac and cheese restaurants out there. Some entrepreneurial hipsters thought that would be a great recession idea, I guess – comfort food during a time of need. A mac and cheese bar would be like the seventh ring of gastronomical hell to me, but fine, I’m allergic to everything in those places, so no worries.

But no. Because the considerate proprietors of these restaurants have created gluten free menus. And even worse? Kraft has also changed its ways. The awful orange cheese sauce? It’s gluten free. And people are cooking it over brown rice pasta.

Terrifying.

In conclusion, I will not come to your birthday party if you have it at one of these restaurants. Please don’t be mad at me; it’s really better if I’m not there. And if you show up at my house with a packet of GF Kraft sauce, I won’t be there. I will be hiding under a rock with a bunch of spiders.

*Lazy lasagna is a casserole made with tomato sauce, a lot of cheeses and ziti. It is nothing like mac and cheese.

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14 thoughts on “Mac and cheese, my old enemy, we meet again.

  1. So, you seem to be referring to the boxed varietal of macaroni and cheese. How do you feel about REAL macaroni and cheese, with REAL cheese? (Despite your lactose intolerance …)

  2. I find this post fascinating.
    Not from an “Oh my God, she hates mac and cheese” standpoint but from a psychological angle.
    As the mother of a teenager who HATES pizza; the sister of a woman who loves peanut butter but hates peanuts; and being a reformed grilled cheese basher myself (due to a harrowing grilled cheese related trauma suffered in nursery school) I believe we should band together and explore our various food related aversions.

  3. Huh. Interesting. I didn’t know this about you. While reading, I tried to think of a single food that had these strong of feelings about.

    Not really. I mean, I won’t eat a brussel sprout and avoid something with cilantro… but that’s not really the same level of phobia…

    Though, I sort of wish I hated pasta and cheese and bread and ice cream and… well, you get the idea. :))

    • It’s one of a few foods I really, truly hate; there are others, but for some reason, I take mac and cheese personally. I’ve tried to be grown-up about it, but it hasn’t worked. On some level, I still harbor this childish belief that mac and cheese was put on this earth to torment me. I’m sure there’s some psychological mac and cheese trauma in my past, but I don’t remember it.

  4. This aversion to mac and cheese goes back to your “high chair” days and the stomach viruses that seemed to find you. Fortunately, it was summer and we were eating outside. Get the picture? The reason I understood your inability to ingest mac and cheese is because I cannot even think about an open face turkey sandwich or any thing with soggy bread. Your grandmother took pity on me and would let me leave the table when the rest of the family was enjoying french toast, etc.

  5. I HATE mac and cheese with all my being. I literally gag at the thought of it. And I’m not even allergic or intolerant to dairy or gluten! I avoid those foods because of other reasons but I always hated mac and cheese. I first tried it when I was five and had to spit it into a napkin. *shivers*

    • I am so glad you commented! Sometimes I feel like I am the only human being alive who hates mac and cheese. We should start a club or something.

      • I am so happy that you posted this article, I was googling mac and cheese haters and came across this. I hate mac and cheese with all my heart, soul, strength and mind!! Sometimes I have to eat it in school lunch, it’s so disgusting! I thought I was the only one who hated it. One of my friends brings Kraft mac and cheese almost everyday for lunch. ew.

  6. Hi A.J.! Like you and Jessica, I also hate mac and cheese! It looks boring.. It tastes weird and just doesn’t have the right kind of texture to it. Just the sight of it makes me vomit (sorry mac and cheese lovers). But anyway, I live in a country where mac and cheese isn’t household staple which is great!

  7. I hate it to! It’s one of the few foods I cannot stand. I remember everyone I was friends with all throughout school loved it to death and I’ve always gagged at the smell. I thought I might like the homemade stuff, but then I tried it and found it still tastes like dirty socks to me. It’s kind of odd really, since I adore cheese, and I completely love pasta, just not together I guess. (I also hate yogurt, which everyone cannot seem to fathom)

  8. I hate mac and cheese too. I don’t get why people rave about it so much. It’s just plain pasta with lots of mucky cheese sauce. Gross. Being asian, to make it tolerable, I ate it along with bird eye chillies. And I ate it because, someone made it – I have to eat it for her sake.

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