Patti LaBelle and I share a common bond: We both love macaroni and cheese.
I should mention here that I love most foods, but mac and cheese holds a special place—especially during the Thanksgiving holiday. It is the Toni Morrison and Luther Vandross of foods—loving and warm; in a league of its own. With each new bite, the savory cheeses trigger the joys of home, and make me want to be a better, more loving person. In the moment, mac and cheese is all that matters.
I cannot tell you the first time I had mac and cheese, but I can tell you of its powers.
Bring a pan of crisp and creamy (but not too creamy; it should never be watery) mac and cheese to Thanksgiving this year. You will instantly become the most beloved person at the gathering (note: this applies to all social occasions). Family and friends and third cousins you've never met will speak your name for generations. They will tell stories of your legend—grand tales of The Time [YOUR NAME HERE] Brought Mac and Cheese to The Glorious Thanksgiving Feast of 2014. "Aunt Caroline's stuffing was terrible, but your mac and cheese changed my life," they will say. You will be a hero.
Patti LaBelle is a hero. Don't you want to be a hero like Patti LaBelle? Of course you do.
Here is a true story: Oprah, 1996 MVP of Black America and all-time records-holding daytime queen, approves of Patti LaBelle's mac and cheese. It is one of her favorite things. Oprah knows what is good for you. Listen to her.
Here is another true story: the first time Elton John tasted LaBelle's five-cheese mac he had an out-of-body experience. "Boyfriend swore he saw Jesus," LaBelle says of the famed singer and composer.
This is not hyperbole. This is the power of mac and cheese. Embrace it.
Walk into the golden, gooey light.
[Illustration by Sam Woolley]