It's one of America's favorite comfort foods and now, fittingly, the theme of a new festival here in central Texas. All hail the Daddy of all carbohydrate delights, Macaroni and Cheese!

In a move by Austin Food magazine - a publication I had not heard about until this week, which is to my detriment as Austin is one of America's great food cities along with my native New Orleans -  November 12 marks the first ever Austin Macaroni and Cheese Festival, a celebration of the dish that made Kraft Foods famous.   If there's a comfort food more beloved, I can't think of one.

According to the event listing, "Generally Cheesy" attendees pay $30 for unlimited tastings or "Big Cheese VIPs" can get the deluxe package for $65 which includes libations and official festival gear. The high rollers will also vote in an “ultimate mac ‘n’ cheese showdown,” which is probably the most fun thing I can think of this side of a "showcase showdown" and spinning the big wheel (what macaroni is to comfort food, The Price is Right is to comfort television, but I digress.)

I must confess however that I find the basic mac & cheese recipe to be a bit bland. Sure I love pasta and I love cheese but American cheese over plane, white bread flour pasta just doesn't cut it anymore.  Are pallets are far more sophisticated than in the golden age of macaroni and cheese, the 1970s. When TV dinners rule the world, mac & cheese and a prominent place inside those tin trays.  That's why this festival is important in a culinary way: we've got a kick it up a notch by making variations to the old formula. What better place to do this then in the culinary quirk capital of the Lone Star State that is Austin.

One of my favorite barbecue places in Austin, Stiles Switch on Lamar in the "Dazed & Confused Shopping Center" is taking part.