Remember When Drake Put Raisins In Mac And Cheese?

A lot went down in 2020, and as if the chaos of a global pandemic wasn't tumultuous enough, rapper Drake served guests at his birthday bash mac and cheese with raisins in it. Now, a classic dish is bound to have its fair share of customizations. Some of them are straightforward, and even before trying them, you can tell they'll work well. Others may sound so off-the-wall that the first reaction may be to dismiss them as a gimmick. However, not all unconventional customizations are bad. Take, for example, pairing whiskey with pickle juice, an unexpected but effective combination endorsed by several veteran drinkers. Similarly, don't be so quick to dismiss mac and cheese with raisins.

Interestingly, Drake's 34th birthday party isn't the first time this unusual pairing has surfaced. Several recipes, some possibly influenced by baked noodle kugel, pair cheesy pasta with raisins. A parallel mystery may be whether the dish was actually served at the rapper's birthday celebration or was merely the figment of a typo on the menu.

Drake's mac and cheese with raisins has multiple explanations

It's worth clarifying that there is no photographic proof that Drake served mac and cheese topped with raisins at his birthday party. Instead, a widely circulated picture of the birthday menu announced "Mac n Cheese" as part of the second course, with a subscript saying it included sun-dried tomato, caper, raisin, and parsley. The dish immediately above, "Grilled Cauliflower," featured an identical subscript. It seems unlikely that two successive dishes on a menu came prepared with the same add-ins. Considering these garnishes are better suited to the grilled cauliflower, we're inclined to give more weight to the menu-typo theory. 

However, there's plenty of reason to believe that mac and cheese with raisins was actually on the menu. It's easy to imagine the celeb rapper having eccentric tastes when it comes to food, though that's not the case with Snoop Dogg's favorite snack. It's possible that the dish was customized for Drake or to please a special guest at the party. We also cannot rule out the dish being part of an inside joke which we may never get context on.

The dish in question could also be inspired by baked kugel as a tip of the hat to Drake's Jewish background. Commonly made with egg noodles, this sweet-savory baked casserole dish contains cheese, eggs, sugar, and raisins. Kugel is a holiday favorite, popular across Europe and the U.S., and could be the inspiration behind Drake's controversial birthday menu choice.

Raisins in mac and cheese is a gourmet move worth trying

While there are simpler ways to upgrade conventional mac and cheese, how you customize the dish depends on the context in which it is being eaten. If you want a comforting bowl of smooth, rich, and cheesy noodles, stick to the tried and tested pairings. However, raisins and other dry fruits can give mac and cheese a gourmet twist and can be used when you're making the dish using more complex cheeses.

Because of their lightly sweet flavor, raisins actually pair well with certain sharp and pungent cheeses. Mac and cheese made with such cheeses should be thought of not as a pasta dish but as a canvas for tasting and pairing, much like a cheese charcuterie board where a tinge of sweetness from berries and dried fruits can help bring out the nuttiness of aged gouda or cheddar, the tanginess of goat cheese or the sharpness of Pecorino Romano. 

In addition to taking inspiration from a charcuterie board, raisins in mac and cheese also resemble how experts pair pizza with wine. A sparking Prosecco is elevated by the mellow sweetness of a pineapple-topped Hawaiian pizza. And considering there was likely a lot of bubbly flowing at Champagne Papi's birthday bash, pairing it with a gourmet take on mac and cheese with raisins is not such an outrageous menu move after all.