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Yum. Mac and cheese.


One of the hippest places in San Francisco when I was there was (is?) the Virgin Records store on Market Street, just across from the Apple Store. On the third level, with big windows facing Market Street, was (is?) a small café. They had lunch specials there, and sometimes the lunch special was “mac and cheese.” I, not being hip, had never heard it called that. In the context of food, “Mac” meant entirely something else to me. But with my clever skills of discreet cross-cultural observation — watching the natives — I figured out what it was. It was macaroni and cheese. They let me order some. It was good.

So macaroni and cheese, then, is an all-American phenomenon, not just something that we white-trash Southerners eat. I wouldn’t give you two cents for quick-made macaroni and cheese stirred up on a stovetop. Proper macaroni and cheese is a slow food. It must be baked. You will not be surprised to hear that I baked this batch in my new Cuisinart steam oven, using the the “steam/convection bake” mode. It was very good. For all its carb-iness and comfort-food qualities, it’s actually a fairly low-glycemic food. One must, of course, use good pasta, eggs laid by Helen and Fiona, organic milk and butter, and good cheese.

I figured that I had earned the comfort food, because I got back to writing this weekend after more than a month of slacking. I’m not sure why I hit a block. It may be my feeling of obscurity owing to the fact that Fugue in Ursa Major sells only in a trickle. Why work so hard on the sequel? Or it may be that I was faced with a couple of difficult scenes — turbulently emotional scenes, Jake’s last day on earth before leaving on a long trip.

But this weekend I got Jake shuttled up to a deep-space cruiser operated by the galactic union. Jake, forlorn, dropped his book and fell asleep in his posh bedroom, and in the morning he will meet the mysterious galactic ambassador at breakfast.

What a team. No wonder we earthlings blew ourselves up. The ambassador will probably call the whole thing off after he actually meets us. What is this, Jake? Search your feelings. It’s shame. That’s what it is — shame. Shame for the planet I come from, shame for the state it’s gotten itself into, shame for the pathetic crew who are supposed to find a cure for their pathetic planet, and shame because my even being here is some kind of mistake.

Poor Jake. It is difficult being cruel to characters we love, but sometimes we must. But he can have comfort food at breakfast.


  1. Jo wrote:

    Beautiful meal! We eat first with our eyes. I must confess my quick baked macaroni and cheese truly falls in the “white-trash” category as I use evaporated milk, fresh egg & sharp cheese.

    Tuesday, July 28, 2015 at 4:37 pm | Permalink
  2. Jo wrote:

    Now, addressing Fugue in Ursa Major. I am reading it for the second time and have given the other copy I ordered as a gift. It is my belief that many, many excellent writers suffer poor sales. This reminds me of a successful actor/singer’s comment that we seldom see or hear the best talent. There is much truth in that comment. Not to say successful writers, artists are without talent, but many were blessed with good timing, good promotion, etc., etc.

    Tuesday, July 28, 2015 at 4:48 pm | Permalink
  3. daltoni wrote:

    Jo, bless you for your kind words.

    Tuesday, July 28, 2015 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

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