Last night, I was making one of those simple yet satisfying dinners the kids and I enjoy so much: grilled cheese sandwiches. With tomato soup, of course. Because you can’t have grilled cheese without tomato soup. I think our forefathers wrote that clause into the Constitution somewhere.
You also can’t have grilled cheese on anything but white bread. It’s the same thing with peanut butter. While I have nothing against wheat bread or multigrain bread or oat bread or rye bread or pumpernickel bread for other sandwiches, grilled cheese tastes best on plain ol’ white. Probably because the cheese is the star of the show, and a strong and assertive bread – much like an egotistical actor – will muscle its way into the limelight and demand your attention. This simply will not do.
I prepped dinner methodically because I’m an extremely
anal organized individual, and I like to have all the ingredients set out and ready to go before I begin the actual cooking process. I had the tomato soup simmering on the stove and the cheese neatly sliced. All that was left was the bread (with both slices buttered on the outside, naturally), so I grabbed the loaf from the pantry – and let out a cry of dismay.
The bread was brown instead of white. I am not racist, but was I ever crestfallen.
How did this happen, I wondered? I had been to the grocery store a few days earlier, and had carefully selected a loaf of white bread. I remembered this clearly, because it was the store brand and on sale for 99 cents. Such a good bargain, in fact, that there had been but a single loaf left, buried in the far bottom corner of the otherwise empty shelf. I grabbed it triumphantly and stuck it in my baby cart, not realizing that I had, in fact, snatched a loaf of wheat bread by mistake – an oversight that would become glaringly obvious minutes before it was time to assemble the grilled cheese sandwiches.
In a panic, I did what any self-respecting person in this situation would: I posted a status update on Facebook bemoaning my lack of white bread.
A few friends commented that I needed to get over it already, that the sandwich would be just fine on wheat, the type of bread doesn’t matter, yadda yadda. I scoffed at those people, the poor unfortunate and ill-informed folk who obviously, obviously, had never actually tried a grilled cheese sandwich on white bread and thereby could not be expected to know any better. There were others who agreed with me, though. Alice and Kandace, you two are my enlightened sisters, fellow grilled cheese gurus who grouse grievously and groan gravely when the white bread is gone. Your wisdom is an inspiration.
At that point, I considered my options. I could knock on my neighbor’s door and see if they had any white bread. I’ve done this before, borrowing both eggs and a cup of sugar (how cliche), and in case you’re wondering how one can “borrow” a food item, said neighbor did in fact knock on my door another time looking for a couple of eggs himself, so it all balances out in the end (even if the eggs they gave me were expensive, brown and probably came from cage-free and free-range chickens while mine were the cheapest dozen I could find). Oh, and his wife once showed up on my porch wearing a bath robe and begging for maple syrup. I was single at the time, she’s rather easy on the eyes, and let’s just say I was happy to give her something sweet. Err…anyway…I quickly discounted this borrowing-bread option because I would need a good dozen slices, and that’s like half a loaf, give or take. I was, therefore, forced to plunge ahead and use the wheat bread.
So I did, and the grilled cheese sandwiches were good, but I guarantee they would have been better had the bread been white. The saving grace was the cheese. I used Tillamook Extra Sharp Cheddar and, as Esther pointed out on Facebook, as long as you have good cheese, you’ll have a good sandwich. Sorry, Wisconsinites…umm, Wisconsinite (singular, and that would be you, Jess)…but Tillamook is the best. cheese. ever. And ice cream, and yogurt, and butter. Those Oregon cows squirt out some damn fine milk, trust me.
I am glad to have survived the Great Grilled Cheese Debacle of ’12 unscathed. It wasn’t quite the tragedy on wheat it might have turned out to be, I’m happy to report, but next time I’ll double check the pantry to make sure I’ve got white bread in there.
How do you make your grilled cheese sandwich? Is white bread a necessary component, or am I overstating its importance? Do you add anything extra to your sandwich, like tomatoes or pickles or bacon? Do you butter the outside of the bread, use something different, or skip that step entirely? And is tomato soup part of the routine? Inquiring minds want to know!
- In Praise of The Grilled Cheese Sandwich (theisleofguile.wordpress.com)
- Best Grilled Cheese in the U.S. (thedailymeal.com)