A high school teacher once gave my class the following advice: “The nail that stands up gets hammered down.”
Like many people he held the philosophy that in order to succeed in life, you had to make sure you didn’t stand out. In his words, “Our society rewards people who function well as a part of something bigger and if you set yourself apart, you’re not that useful.”
He made some more points to that effect and the class was rapt. When (leering the way he often did) he asked me what my thoughts were on the subject, I replied “Well, Sir, those are all logical, reasoned and well thought out points.” When his smile widened, I added – “I reject them all.” Poof went the smile.
I offered that many of the leaps and bounds made by societies throughout history were as a direct result of people who dared to do things differently. Innovators, philosophers, scientists, artists and inventors around the world who often risked their lives to oppose the grand machines they were living in gave rise to amazing things.
At first he was angered at my counterpoints but afterwards — well actually he was still furious and hated me for the rest of my education — but my point is, this ‘stagnancy worship’ is something that I feel needs to be rooted out; especially in the food industry.
To give a quick example, my father recently asked me to bake him an old fashioned mac and cheese. He made the point of adding that he was fully fed up with getting food that was, in his words ‘not normal’ and specifically wanted something plain.
I think a part of him knew that there was a moose’s chance in the crosshairs that I’d listen to him and that part at least, was not surprised. I tried to make it normal. I really did. But some part of me was so dearly disappointed by the act that I couldn’t bear it. In fact, it felt downright sinful (and not in a good way). Thus, Dear Readers, I created:
Garlic Alfredo Mac and Cheese
3 ½ cups elbow macaroni
4 cups whole milk
¼ cup parmesan cheese
¼ cup herb and garlic cream cheese
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp minced garlic
2 cups shredded marble cheese
1 tsp shredded parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Using a large saucepan and plenty of water, cook your macaroni to just below al dente (10 – 12 minutes on medium high). Rinse and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large saucepan, whisk together all remaining ingredients (aside from flour) and half of the shredded cheese until mixture starts to bubble. Add flour, remove from heat and whisk until smooth. Mix sauce with the macaroni and layer this mixture in a medium roaster. Top with cheese and bake for 15 minutes.
Dad sighed with satisfaction when I presented him with his mac and cheese, mostly because on the outside (please refer to the snap I took) it looked fairly normal. On closer inspection, he realized that something was different. He took note of the garlic scent and the creamy texture and shot me a look of defiance before taking a big, gooey forkful into his gob. I went about cleaning up and when he tossed the plate (cleanly finished) into the sink full of dishwater before me he added, “That was really good, you’re lucky that I like garlic.”
Never be afraid to stand out, my friends. Hammers aren’t as tough as they think they are.
Thanks for reading.