When we were married, my husband brought into our marriage the gift of his family’s recipe for homemade macaroni and cheese. It was his dowry of sorts. Never mind that I don’t particularly care for macaroni and cheese, I love my husband and I love that macaroni and cheese is one of the four things he is able to cook and that he makes macaroni with gusto and ease and big pats of sinfully delicious butter.
Over the years of our marriage, I have (as the cook in the family), attempted to make variations of this family recipe, if for nothing else but the sake of (at least in the beginning) variety. I have long wondered how many casserole dishes of the same basic mac and cheese one grown man can consume before tiring of it entirely, but it seems that his appetite is endless. Endless, I tell you! So therefore, in search of his highest praises on what to him is one of life’s greatest joys, I have in times past, tried alternative versions of his basic (errr holy) recipe. I would work over a hot stove and wait patiently as he finally tried the first steamy spoonful of what I was sure would be the new and improved version of his Marvelous macaroni and cheese. And he would politely “mmmm” and nod his head and say “it’s good. . . . just not as good as mine.” He would pat me on the head, beaming his million dollar smile and jest that I could be the best at so many things but that macaroni was his domain. He was the king and he wasn’t surrendering his thrown.
Now a less competitive person would have given up and let the king have his day, but there was a nagging need inside of me to know that I had taken something that made his life oh-so enjoyable (even in the years before me) and made it better. Better because of my contribution. Now I know what you are thinking: “get over yourself, it’s a side dish.” But it was so much more. Macaroni is . . . dare I say, his other love? His culinary mistress, if you will. And I wasn’t going to rest until I had one-upped her once and for all.
And so it came that one day, after many many years of marriage and many many many casserole dishes of macaroni and cheese, that I trumped her-the original recipe, that is. While previous efforts had involved complicated additions of expensive ingredients, the solution to the riddle was, in the end, ever so simple. Dijon mustard! In the final stage of the original recipe, one pours several cups of milk over the prepared macaroni and then heats the dish in the oven. One day when Mr. Marvelous wasn’t looking, I added a tablespoon or so of Dijon to the milk, whisked it well and poured the milk over top without him any the wiser of the new addition. When that macaroni came out of the oven, he took a bite and declared it the best macaroni he had ever made.
Amen to that!
I could finally rest. The original family recipe now includes a tablespoon or two of Dijon mustard. Every time! And I took something that was great in his life and made it just a little bit better.
Isn’t marriage fun?!
I love you, Mr. Marvelous! Run away with me to the land of milk and honey and macaroni ‘n cheese!