Yesterday was National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day. It’s a day to celebrate the glories of the grilled cheese sandwich and to reflect anew on the delectable nature of melty, gooey, crunchy goodness.
On such a day, you’d expect red-blooded Americans to engage in a vigorous debate on the best way to make a grilled cheese sandwich — and, especially, what kind of cheese makes the best GCS. The so-called experts will discuss at length the respective merits of different, high-end options like aged cheddar, fontina, gruyere, Monterey Jack, raclette, and havarti, but they also pooh-pooh the traditional choice that many of us grew up with — namely, American cheese. One grilled cheese chef, who probably spoke with a grimace on her face, dismissed American cheese thusly: “It’s not really cheese to me, it’s some kind of weird plastic-y substance that should be banned from the face of the earth.”
Well . . . lah de freakin’ dah! I’m guessing that same expert would sneeringly dismiss the use of Wonder bread, too.
I beg to differ. I love different cheeses, and I think those high-falutin’ grilled cheese sandwiches you can get at restaurants are just fine, but when I think of a truly succulent grilled cheese sandwich, I think of them the way Mom used to make them — with Kraft American cheese (or maybe Velveeta), on Wonder bread, with a little butter smeared on the outside, then grilled so there was a crunchy, buttery outer shell for the melty cheese inside. And, of course, the resulting masterpiece of the culinary arts had to be sliced diagonally and served with Campbell’s tomato soup made with milk, so you could dip the edges of the sandwich into the soup and gobble the result up in perfect combination.
I’ll take Mom’s grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup over the fou fou offerings of the so-called “experts” any day of the week. When National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day rolls around, that’s the one I’ll savor.