Soul Food: Mac and Cheese

Soul Food: Mac and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese, a beloved comfort food staple in American cuisine, has a rich and fascinating history that traces back centuries. While its origins are rooted in European pasta dishes, it was Thomas Jefferson, America's third president, who helped popularize macaroni and cheese in the United States during the early 19th century.

Jefferson, known for his intellect, curiosity, and epicurean tastes, encountered macaroni during his travels to Italy and France. Intrigued by the dish, he became fascinated with pasta-making techniques and its culinary potential. While it's believed that he may have attempted to replicate the dish at Monticello, there were no pasta-making machines available during his time. Instead, he likely relied on traditional methods of pasta production or imported macaroni from Europe to introduce the dish to his dining table at Monticello, his plantation in Virginia.

While Jefferson did not invent macaroni and cheese, his association with the dish helped elevate its status among Americans of his time. Jefferson's personal notes contain a recipe for "macaroni pie," which featured macaroni noodles, parmesan cheese, and butter--among other ingredients.

Chef James HemingsThe origins of macaroni and cheese in America are intertwined with the culinary innovations of Thomas Jefferson and the enslaved cooks at Monticello. James Hemings, apprenticed in France, likely introduced the dish upon Jefferson's return in 1789. He trained his brother Peter Hemings, who later led the kitchen. Edith Hern Fossett, alongside Frances Gillette Hern, assisted in preparing the dish, continuing its tradition over the years. Records show large purchases of parmesan cheese and macaroni, indicating its popularity. Even in Jefferson's final years, macaroni remained a staple, showcasing the enduring legacy of Hemings, Peter, Edith, Frances, and other enslaved cooks in American culinary history.

The legacy of Thomas Jefferson and his macaroni and cheese lives on, with the dish remaining a beloved comfort food enjoyed by millions across the United States. From homemade recipes passed down through generations to gourmet adaptations served in restaurants, mac and cheese continues to hold a special place in the hearts and stomachs of Americans everywhere.

As we reflect on the rich history and cultural significance of macaroni and cheese, why not celebrate this beloved dish and its place in soul food cuisine with a stylish tee? One of our tees feature iconic dishes like mac and cheese, paying homage to the flavors and traditions that have shaped American food culture. Whether you're a food enthusiast, history buff, or simply appreciate a good comfort meal, our Soul Food Tee is the perfect way to showcase your love for this timeless classic. Order yours today and wear your passion for soul food with pride!

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.