0 Today I Learned...the History of Mac & Cheese

baked macaroni and cheese
[Photo credit: tsgquickdishing.com]
Macaroni and cheese—everyone's favorite comfort food—existed way before that famous blue box. So when and where was the warm, gooey, delicious dish invented? It all began in Italy, of course.

The first recipe for mac and cheese is thought to have originated from a 13th century Italian cookbook called the Liber de Coquina, or Book of Cooking. According to food historians, the recipe for de lasanis called for sheet pasta cut into two-inch (50-millimeter) squares, cooked in water and tossed with grated cheese, likely Parmesan.

pasta maker, macaroni, Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson's macaroni machine with instructions for making pasta (1787). [Photo credit: Library of Congress]
The popular dish spread throughout Europe, eventually reaching colonial America. Today it's a pretty inexpensive meal, but in the 19th century, macaroni and cheese was primarily reserved for the upper classes. In fact, many historians credit Thomas Jefferson with introducing the dish to the United States. Jefferson dined on mac and cheese while he was in Italy and loved it so much that he brought a pasta maker back with him to the U.S.; the dish was first served at the White House in 1802.

Kraft macaroni, Wrigley Field
As part of its new ad campaign, on Tuesday, Kraft installed a 20-foot long elbow macaroni sculpture outside of Chicago's Wrigley Field. [Photo credit: Chicago Breaking Sports]
During the Industrial Revolution, pasta production became easier and macaroni was made readily available to the masses. Kraft Foods introduced their version of macaroni and cheese in 1937, at the end of the Great Depression. Called "the housewife's best friend, a nourishing one pot meal," it was a fast, filling and inexpensive way to feed a family.

[via AllTop; TLC Cooking]

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