Mac and Cheese for the Travel-Hungry

bowl of baked macaroni and cheese

[rez-art] / [iStock] / Thinkstock

Just because you can’t afford to go to Europe, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some of the refined flavors of its variety of cuisines. And just because you also can’t afford to go to European themed restaurants doesn’t mean you can’t have those tastes close to home. For the budget-minded, mac & cheese is a dietary staple and functions as the perfect foundation for an inexpensive culinary tour of Europe.

If you are an advanced traveler, then you know that French people value a few things very highly: thin mustaches, wine, striped shirts, cheese, berets, and Les Miserables. Because striped shirts and musicals do not mix into pasta products, you’ll have to stick with the wine and cheese. Choose a good, melty French cheese like brie and mix it in with yourmacaroni and butter. You may do this in tandem with the cheese packet or without it; it is your choice! Instead of milk, use a half and half mixture of water and white wine. Drink the remaining 97% of the bottle with your meal. Taste the culture!

You may be saying, “But macaroni and cheese is pasta! It’s already Italian!” While this is true, mac & cheese is not exactly classic Italian fare. Having said that, neither is the following recipe; but it is MORE Italian. While making the macaroni, cook small pieces of bacon in a separate sauce pan with olive oil. Drain the macaroni and add it to the pan with the bacon. Add one egg white to the pan with the pasta and bacon and stir briskly to prevent the egg from scrambling. Sprinkle on some powdered cheese mixture and voila! Macaroni and cheese carbonara.

Germans love beer and sausage. Period. Cook or grill bratwursts in a separate pan and cut into small, bite-sized pieces. Mix the macaroni, cheese and butter with beer instead of milk. Add in the cooked sausage pieces and serve with remaining beer.

This recipe is hardly fair. Kalamata olives and feta cheese make all foods taste spectacular and seem extremely fancy. To create, make your mac & cheese as you normally would, adding feta and olives at the end. Note #1: Feta cheese will not melt easily, so you may as well not try. Note #2: Those less expensive kalamata olives that you purchased probably have pits; eat cautiously.

Portugal is right next to the ocean. As you can imagine, over the years they have grown quite fond of the food that comes out of that ocean. Therefore, it is only fair that their specialty mac & cheese contain some sort of seafood. If you’re looking up special macaroni recipes, it probably means you are on a budget, which probably also means that you have a can of tuna in your cupboard. Luckily, tuna goes very well with mac and cheese. Prepare the mac as normal, then mix in tuna and place in an oven safe container. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top and place in the oven at 350 degrees. Bake for 10 minutes. Serve.

By Patrick Hutchison