No ones posted in here in a bit so I thought I add a twist on macroni and cheese and a story ...
Once upon and time, a long time ago in a land forgotten by time, there was a small village where everyone spoke Itaglish. There were three generations of for these people fairly fresh off the boat and they were very close. In every house in the village the families were relatives. The men all wore dark suits and the woman all wore flowery aprons with and handkerchiefs in the pockets and hair nets on their heads. The one thing they all had unlike anywhere I’ve ever seen was love!
To say that trying to make them understand some things would be an understatement. I was lucky enough to have gotten to know La Zia. La Zia in Italian means “the Aunt.” Not just any aunt but THE Aunt! She was my mothers aunt, my grandmothers only living sister and she was La Zia! I don’t know exactly what this all meant but she was the highest ranking of all the ladies and all paid her tribute with the title La Zia. Her husband was a mason he made rock walls and fireplaces that people have moved when the sell their houses – beautiful works of art.
I remember one day La Zia asked me, “What it is you want for the eattings?” meaning it was lunch time and I could have my choice. I had eaten at a friends house one day and had macaroni and cheese and thought that would be nice. So I told her excitedly, “La Zia I would like macaroni and cheese please.”
Well La Zia cooked the pasta and started browning hamburger and chopping tomatoes and basil and I ran out to the yard to play while she cooked.
Awhile later La Zia stood on the porch waving her handkerchief calling “Deebe, Deebe mangia! Mangia! and called me in to wash and get ready for lunch. Mama didn’t make macaroni and cheese. It just was not in her repertoire and I was excited.
I came out of the bathroom and proudly displayed my newly washed hands, face and ears (don’t ask about the ears – I never did get that one. It’s not like you actually eat with your ears or anything but they had to get washed too!). Of course I didn’t do a good enough job. I always had a spot on my face somewhere that needed spit from La Zia and her old handkerchief to clean off before getting my cheek squished and bottom slapped before sitting down.
Now La Zia was very pleased with her handiwork and proudly carried out a HUGE bowl of her macaroni and cheese made just for me (and everyone else in the neighborhood I think – I do get it honestly!) and when she sat it on the table she must have seen my jaw drop.
“Whasa madda piccolo?” she asked Best I can figure is piccolo means little or small person.
I looked at the macaroni and said “That’s not macaroni and cheese.”
She looked at me with a confused look and said “ Si macaroni and Cheeza!”
I said “No it’s not macaroni and cheese – it’s macaroni WITH cheese, and tomatoes and meat and other stuff!”
Now she was really confused and started poking at the bowl with a wooden spoon saying, “Whasa Differenza? Itsa macaroni! Itsa Cheeza! Mangia!” So we ate and I thanked her for making me this special meal and went home about 8 eight doors down.
I never did make them understand “Whasa Differenza?”
Well tonight for supper I made “macaroni WITH cheese” and all the other stuff, which to eliminate confusion Mama called “Baked Macaroni in the Oven” and this is the differenza!
First you take a box of elbow macaroni and cook it a little more than andante’.
While that’s cooking you chop up a few big onions and throw them in a skillet with hamburger to brown.
Then you throw the drained, browned hamburger in the bottom of a big Pyrex bowl. I throw a little ketsup on top because I like ketsup on hamburger but Mama never did that.
Then throw a handful of chopped stewed tomatoes on the meat with a little basil.
Then about half the pasta on top and sprinkle lightly with cheeses – any cheeses you have. I like mozzarella, parmesan, romano, and cheddar.
Then the rest of the pasta, tomatoes and basil and more cheeses. Then top with provolone and bake at about 350°F for about 20 minutes or the cheese browns.
Macaroni WITH cheese, tomatoes and basil!
Now I ask you … Whasa differenza?