Chronology: The History of Mac and Cheese

By Jonathan SooHoo

There’s a game called Chronology that’s popular with a group of students at my school. The goal of the game: A team works together to build the longest timeline they can. The dealer draws a card from a deck of historical events and reads it to the team. The team must decide where on the timeline to place the event. If they place it correctly, they get a new card to place. The exact date doesn’t matter as long as the card is placed in the correct spot relative to the cards already on the timeline. 

I really hope everyone knows what year this was written…  Credit: The National Archive

I really hope everyone knows what year this was written…

Credit: The National Archive

It’s a nerdy game. But let’s just play one round; I’ll give you an easy one. Independence Day was this month so your starting card is “The Signing of the Declaration of Independence.” Now does the card “The First Description of a Dish Resembling Mac and Cheese in a Cookbook” go before or after it? 

Did you guess after? Then I might have made this one harder than I let on, sorry. The first and second descriptions of something that could be considered mac and cheese, a pasta and parmesan dish from the Italian cookbook Liber de Coquina and a pasta and cheese casserole from the English cookbook Forme of Cury, were actually from the 14th century! The Signing of the Declaration wouldn’t happen for about 400 years. The first modern mention was in 1770 in another English book The Experienced English Housekeeper. A few years later, the dish was introduced to the United States by Thomas Jefferson, where it acquired the name mac and cheese. 

Now there are so many ways to enjoy what has become a classic American comfort food. Some swear by boxed Kraft mac and cheese, while others have their grandma’s three-cheese-blend recipe baked in the oven with breadcrumbs. However you like it, come and try our award-winning (2016 Chicago Mac and Cheese Fest) mini mac and cheese casseroles with bacon jam for you next event!

 
Our award-winning mac and cheese!

Our award-winning mac and cheese!

 


Jonathan SooHoo