The Meals of Just-ish, Part III: A Glass of Lukewarm Water Consumed in a Beige Room on a Mild, Slightly Overcast Day
Note: If you don’t understand what’s happening here, this post will bring you up to speed.
As if the endless winter wasn’t punishment enough, the north has now begun bombarding me with cheap boxed pasta. That’s right, Mark, a presumed reader of this blog/listener of John Hodgman took it upon himself to mail us a box of Kraft Dinner. This thoughtful act was touching, and we are forever in his debt, but it also made me realize how much easier it would be if other people did legwork for me. So, if you are close to a store that carries Moxie or Cheez Waffies, please mail them to me. I have searched every supermarket and hegemonic retail emporium within fifty miles, and Cheez Doodles and RC Cola are the closest approximations I can find. I could order them online, but what would be fun about that? And setting those aside, there’s one thing that needs to be acquired manually. If you are driving past the Southbound Kennebunkport Travel Plaza and want to pick up a couple bananas (and two slices of Sbarro, I guess) while on your way to the I-90 or I-88 corridor, I will meet you to pick them up. I’ll even bring you a really, really good cup of coffee and dolorously watch while you drink it.
As this experiment has progressed, and as my food stores have dwindled, with squash and kale likely to go extinct in the next two weeks, the monotony of my meals has been a consistent theme. It’s so boring that I willingly sit for hours winnowing oats, just so I can grind them and bake cookies. In this context scrapple proved nothing less than a delicious godsend.
Which made the Kraft Dinner experience disappointing. I didn’t expect anything extraordinary, or even good. But, perhaps because it had been untold years since I’d eaten the american equivalent, I had an idea that it would have that nuclear, liquid cheesiness usually found congealing atop a platter of nachos. Instead it was just bland. The noodles, which I didn’t overcook, had no particular texture. The cheese sauce, even though I used good, fresh milk as the base, was virtually flavorless. It wasn’t even particularly salty.
It was meaningless, an exercise in gustatory futility. While the Dinner had no singularly offensive qualities, neither did it have anything to recommend it. This would not bother me if I wasn’t so sure that some staggering amount of it is being consumed daily across this fair land, and, apparently, in the fair land to our north. I can say in all honesty that despite the stupid rules that currently govern my food choices, I would not eat this product with any regularity even if it was allowed as a permanent, ad libitum exception.
I’m a food snob, and as such I have an easy time peering down my nose at products like this, even as I acknowledge the rarity of the circumstances that let me commit to the diet I follow. Yet I can’t help but feel I am doomed from this day forward to feel a fundamental disconnect from humanity at large, a sense that there is a difference between the motivating principles of my life and those of others. I’m doomed to a vision of a country - nay, of a world - fed to a stupor on a mush of slightly cheesy blandness.
Fine, I don’t really think most of that, but what do you want me to write about? Everyone’s eaten Kraft Dinner, née Macaroni and Cheese. It’s quick! It’s boring! It’s ubiquitous! It doesn’t taste bad! It doesn’t taste good!
Hopefully Cheez Waffies will bring enough heat to at least make an impression.