One the most common questions we get asked is: What is Ontario food? With our new series, Made In Ontario, we�re spotlighting the treasures, tastes and traditions that make up our fledgling food culture.
Follow along and share your additions with #MadeInOntario!
Mac ‘n Cheese
Macaroni and cheese, or mac’n’cheese as we’ll affectionally refer to it, is a dish that I’m sure you’re all familiar with. Whether you remember your grandmother making it for you on your birthday or the blue box you reached for way too often in college, most of the Ontarians that we know have some sort of a relationship with this cheesiest of comfort foods.
Mac’n’cheese is a dish of English origin that consists of boiled elbow noodles and some sort of cheddar based sauce mornay. This last part is key because as some of you know, Ontario was once the cheddar making capital — of the world! At the start of the 20th century, 1,242 Cheddar factories were in Ontario, and cheddar was Canada�s second-largest export, after timber. Curd on the street is that in 1904, we exported about 234,000,000 lb of cheddar!
There are two generally accepted ways of making mac’n’cheese, either stovetop or baked. The base for the two is the same cheesy sauce, where stovetop is made in a pot and never sees the inside of an oven, baked is more of a casserole with a buttery bread topping.
The topping options for mac’n’cheese are only limited by your imagination, any combination of veggies, meats or even fruits can take this humble dish to new heights.
Best spot to find it: Oxford County, they know their cheeses!
Producer who does it right: Cheesewerks — pick your poison, they’ve got a variety for every mood!
We really love it: In the fall! There are so many options for tasty veggie add-ons that are still in season but the weather is starting to call for comfort food. It’s a match made in heaven!
What makes mac’n’cheese so special?
While mac’n’cheese, or the popular boxed version called Kraft Dinner, are often called Canada’s de facto national dish we really see the roots of mac’n’cheese in Ontario. With it’s worldwide popularity driven by James L. Kraft of Stevensville, Ontario our province has played a huge part in popularizing the dish. Ontario was also the largest producer of cheese when Canada made a switch to dairy after wheat crops were decimated by a blight. Cheese and noodles have a long history in Ontario, from the English heritage that many of us share, to our dairy farming and manufacturing traditions that still exist today.