It’s electric orange. That means it’s good for you!

Though the food in Italy is really great, sometimes I just get tired of healthy, natural-tasting stuff. For this reason, whenever I go home to the USA, I always bring back a suitcase full of American goodies such as A1 Sauce, Hamburger Helper, Nerds Candy, Country Time Pink Lemonade Mix, and brown sugar (which oddly, you can’t find in Italy). Oh yeah, I also always bring back lots and lots of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese!

The Cheesiest!

So, one evening, back in the days when I lived in Bologna, I decided to organize a dinner with my Italian roommates and some American friends that were also living in Italy at the time. The star of the show was to be Kraft Macaroni & Cheese! I don’t remember exactly what form the macaroni had, but it was definitely one of those fun shapes like Sponge Bob, Scooby Doo, or Spider Man.

The excitement began even before the dinner was served as my Italian friends looked with horror upon the meal I was preparing. I think the best way to sum up this culinary adventure is to just provide you with some contextual quotes from the evening (obviously not uttered by my American friends):

  • Oh my goodness! Why is the pasta shaped like a dog?
  • There’s a packet. Why is there a packet in the box?
  • How long are you going to boil the pasta for? It’s already way past al dente!
  • You’re adding more butter into the pot than I have ever seen or consumed in my entire life!
  • What is that orange powder!!?!? Is it an insecticide?
  • What flavor does “orange” taste like?
After withstanding all of these insults and exclamations, it was finally time to eat. We all sat down together and I plopped out scoopsful of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese for my now-speechless Italian dinner guests.We used plastic plates, because we didn’t have enough mis-matched ceramic ones to go around. However, even if there had been a complete dinner service in our apartment I think I still would have stuck with plastic plates just the same… it helped to add to the “drama” of it all.
At this point, I was thinking to myself, “ok, so they pre-judged my Kraft Macaroni & Cheese before even trying it because of its aesthetic aspects, but now I’m going to bowl them over with cheesy flavor!”
Well, they hated it and I ended up getting angry because I felt as if I has wasted my precious stock of American food on their unappreciative and snobby Italian taste buds.
But, after having the same thing happen again in Milan with a different group of Italians, I’ve learned my lesson. I just wait untill a night when I know my boyfriend is going to get home late from work and I haven’t made plans with any of my friends. Then I make myself a “guilty pleasure” box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, to be enjoyed all by myself …. I may even cut up some hotdogs and throw ’em in, if I’m feeling frisky!
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28 thoughts on “It’s electric orange. That means it’s good for you!

  1. Dearest Garrett,

    The next time you have Macaroni Cheese on the menu I would love an invitation to dinner…please remember before you finish your stocks!

  2. Even when we were still living in the US, I’d occasionally buy a can of some sort of Chef Boyardee pasta for those rare cravings. I usually tried to do it only when my Italian boyfriend (from Bologna) was out of the country so that I wouldn’t have to listen to the comments of how atrocious it was. Now, here in the Netherlands, when he goes back to Italy and I stay here, I will sometimes buy a box of the “import” mac & cheese in a box (not Kraft) to satisfy my cravings. Although next time I might also order a Dominos pizza, because as much as I enjoy the stuff made by the Italians here, I miss American-style pizza sometimes.

    • Wow! I forgot about Chef Boyardee! I have never brought that stuff back (because I’m not really into it), but now I just may. Can you even imagine how worked up Italians would get over spaghetti and meatballs with sauce in a can???

  3. It’s funny what we miss. Because Turkey is a Moslem country pork products are expensive so the Brits obsess about bacon. Day trips to Greece and vistors from home are all employed to import this precious commodity.

  4. Garrett, next time you feel this need to poison yourself, try this recipe: spaghetti alla nonna maria.
    Spaghetti Barilla – quelli con cottura 8 minuti-;
    prepari un sugo solo con salsa di pomodoro, olio di oliva ligure, basilico fresco. Li condisci con parmigiano ( con il pecorino sono ancora meglio ) ; sono subito pronti perchè il sugo non richiede soffritto. Provali e fammi sapere..:)

  5. I can definitely relate to this! For me, I’m always craving those overly sweet Starbucks frappuccinos and my Italian friends always tell me I’m crazy to like such a “disgusting” drink when I have the best coffee in the world at my doorstep πŸ˜›

  6. If Italians can’t get mac and cheese, what does the non-cooking parent do for dinner on the nights that the cooking parent is out of the house? Jeremy would NEVER survive in Italy! He eats boxed mac and cheese at least once a week. It’s his chosen treat when I’m not home to make dinner. It’s daddy’s specialty. He “healthys” it up by adding broccoli, tomato, and hot dogs. Can you get hot dogs in Italy? Did you know you can easily make brown sugar? You just add molasses to white sugar. I can send you the ratio if you’d like.

    • Hey Hil! The problem with making homemade brown sugar is that molasses is really hard to find too! 😦

      Give me the recipe anyways please!

      Hot dogs do exist in Italy. However, the word “hot dog” in Italian only refers to the sandwich with ketchup and mustard, while the meat product itself is called by the German name “wurstel”.

      … I may have just gotten another idea for my blog …

  7. Brilliant! When I lived in Rome I craved Chef Boyardee ravioli. Imagine the disgust of the Italians (even if I bought it at Castroni)!

  8. Hey Garrett! We do have brown sugar (zucchero di canna) in Italy, I always buy it in stores like Auchan (I do not use white sugar), there are some brands like Eridania, Alce Nero, etc.
    By the way, nice blog πŸ™‚

    • Hi Chiara!! Thanks for stopping bye!

      The brown sugar that I’m talking about is not just brown in color (like zucchero di canna), but is made with sugar and molasses. It is soft and moist and is used in a lot of American cookie recipes! It’s also really good on a hot bowl of oatmeal! If you do ever come across it in Italy, please let me know! πŸ™‚

      • Hi Gareett, nice blog! remind me the kind of talking about food i always have with my american boyfriend ha ha ha
        You can find american style brown sugar in Italy in the Equo Solidale shops, I think they call it muscovado. We also find it sometimes in organic food shops. I am not talking about zucchero di canna, I am talking about the real thing πŸ™‚

  9. Ha ha !

    I once brought two boxes of Stove Top stuffing back from a business trip to Dubai (of all places) to Turkey. Sure you can make it from scratch, but it’s just not the same without the chemicals and preservatives. Made one box for some local friends who were, surprise, surprise – thoroughly unimpressed !

    Slightly miffed, I kept the other box stowed for over a year in the cupboard until some friends from the US organized a “let’s improvise” holiday dinner at their Ankara apartment.

    We even had cranberry sauce made from re-hydrated dried cranberries and a little fresh squeezed pomegranate juice. There’s nothing a little imagination and an immersion blender won’t fix.

    Love your blog !

    • Ciao! Love your use of the word “miffed”. That’s a good one!

      You’re totally right about the chemicals and preservatives adding that special something!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  10. As you learned with this experience, you should never *never* try to compete in the field of food with Italians! :-DDDD Consider that usually husbands are upset by the way their wives cook pasta (tipically lasagne, but also simple plain pasta al pomodoro) because it doesn’t taste exactly as their mothers’ pasta! This is a cause of divorce! ;-)) :-PP

  11. Living in South Africa, one thing I ALWAYS ask friends to bring with them coming from the US is Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. And I stockpile it when I travel back home. I also do not let my South African friends have any, because i know they will have a similar reaction, no wasting my preciousness!

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