Amateurs’ kitchen: Combining sweets and salts in a meal and not loving the results

January 24, 2024 — by William Norwood, Nicole Lee and Isabelle Wang
Graphic by Isabelle Wang
Macaroni noodles suspended in a strawberry cheese jello.
Fusion cooking is much harder in practice than in theory.

As sane people slept comfortably in their warm beds on a bleak, cold December morning, we decided to exercise our creative minds and create a new culinary “masterpiece” — something following trendy fusion food combinations made popular such as sushi pizza or a pho burrito. Call it our attempt at being innovative.

Isabelle first headed to William’s house, bringing with her a bag of ingredients. Just a few minutes later, Nicole arrived. Inside the backpack, she had packed a variety of seemingly random ingredients: cheese, pasta and jello.

Our goal: to combine mac and cheese with jello and see what would happen. Our version of Gordan Ramsey was senior Mitchell Chen, who guided our process and evaluated our efforts. 

We first cooked the mac and cheese. On our first attempt, William overcooked the macaroni, leading to a disgusting mess of mushed cheese pasta. However, after Isabelle took the reins and tried again with a timer on her phone, we were able to cook the pasta perfectly. After transferring the pasta to a plate, it was only a matter of combining the pasta with the jello. 

While waiting for the pasta to cool down, we started creating the strawberry flavored jello. Mixing a simple solution of jello powder and hot water, we were able to quickly and efficiently mix up a delicious jello. Then, quickly before the mac and cheese cooled and the jello firmed up, we mixed the neon red liquid with the creamy, artificially yellow noodles and poured the mixture into a bowl. 

Our final concoction: the classic, red and round jello, now tinted slightly orange by the artificially yellow cheese and little elbow macaroni noodles suspended throughout it. 

On first taste, the macaroni and cheese and jello was bizarre. The texture mixed relatively well, but the sweet flavors of the jello and the saltiness of the macaroni and cheese did not mesh well. Still, William could not stop eating, heaping spoonfuls of the red and yellow dish onto his plate.

For her part, Nicole found the creation to be disgusting. After eating a spoonful, she spat it out.

Sadly, our attempt at fusion had flopped.

Still, making the dish was fun and we learned how to make both macaroni and cheese and jello, a great learning experience for our cooking lives at college. We probably won’t share our jellified pasta with anyone anytime soon, but it also hasn’t set us back on the idea of trying interesting food combinations in the future.

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