Funny how something simple can became “a thing,” isn’t it? Way back, in the winter of 2013 (does anyone remember that far back?) I was making my usual grilled cheese for lunch. I took one bite, and even though it had just the right amount of butter and gooey cheese, I just couldn’t eat any more. My brain just said, “NO.”
I know I risk sounding like Andy Rooney, but why do we even bother to call it a grilled cheese? Does anyone actually slap their sandwiches on a hot grill? No. We take the sensible route and brown that baby in as much butter as we can stand. But where was I? Oh, yeah, this sudden dislike was quite a shock. Grilled cheese has long been the go-to menu around here, whether we are busy with work, projects or play. We could always whip up a grilled cheese, add a salad or soup and call it a meal – happily.
But on that cold winter day last year, I must have reached my life-long quota on grilled cheese. I tossed the rest of the sandwich and fretted about it – for about a minute. But later that night when I told my husband about this strange, acute aversion, he surprised me with his vehement declaration that he, too, was sick of one of our favorite things.
It wasn’t like me made them the same way all the time, either. We would throw in a combination of any kind of cheese we had around the house, and add tomatoes, or salsa, chutney, relishes or pepper jelly. But, apparently, enough was enough.
So 2013 became the Year Without Grilled Cheese. We broke up with our long-time companion. No goat cheese with pecans; no pimento cheese; no brie with raspberry jam was crammed between two slices of bread and quickly sautéed. And nope, we didn’t even miss them. We did finally realize the inherent usefulness of the sandwich – the reason we ate so many of them as children. They are one of the quickest ways to use up stale bread. Our Depression-era mothers never met a bread heel they didn’t love.
So, we made bread crumbs instead.
Now, with a freezer full of crumbs and a rested palate, we’re thinking about dipping our toe back in the water this week. I’ve got a little bit of really ripe Gruyere and some chewy sunflower bread. We’ll see.
What we’re really worried about is that this aversion syndrome will suddenly rear its head in relation to our other two long-time favorites – chicken wings and – gulp – pizza. If that happens, well, we’ll deal with it – and eat a little healthier, too.
For those of you who still think grilled cheese should be the official sandwich of your state, here’s a doozy to keep you warm this winter – with or without the tomato soup.
Inside-out Grilled Cheese
1 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup of your favorite soft, flavored cream cheese
1 small apple, sliced thinly
4 slices bread
1 cup sharp cheddar, shredded
Melt the butter over medium heat in a non-stick pan big enough to hold both sandwiches. (If you cook one at a time, use a tablespoon of butter for each sandwich.)
Evenly spread the cream cheese on one slice of bread, top with apples and place the other slice of bread on top. Press down.
Sprinkle the cheese over the hot butter in the pan. Place the sandwiches on top and press down. Cook until the cheese starts to brown and crisp. Flip the sandwich with a spatula and briefly warm the other side. Serve cheese-side up.