Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cheddar Chunks of Childhood

So, last night, I was reminded by my old HS friend "JT" about how I used to prepare cheese for my "signature dish." There is nothing more colorful than a bright orange cube of American Cheddar. And I used to indulge my most OCD tendencies while cutting a half pound of grocery store chunk cheddar cheese into one inch cubes.

I would boil up a pound of elbow macaroni, chop a red onion fine, toss in some frozen peas (cooked in the pasta water), and mix it all together with a cup of mayonnaise, a squirt of Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, and dried oregano. After all the other ingredients were mixed together, the perfect little cubes of cheddar would accent this Americana classic - the pasta salad.

The little cubes of cheddar would get just a little melty around the edges (but not so much so that they glued all the noodles together...). The oregano infused mayonnaise blended with the cheese to make a mild, rich base for the noodles and veggies. This American, grocery store cheddar isn't the rich, crumby cheddar of England. It isn't the nutty, complex cheddar of the American artisinal movement. It isn't a sharp, tasty Australian cheddar. But, it is a simple, mild classic that did what I wanted it to do - give amazing color and provide a tasty creaminess that nicely absorbs the mayo and spices. Yum..

Sometimes, you just need a little chunk o' cheddar.

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