HARMON: The thrill of the grilled cheese

May 29, 2013 

We went on another health spree around here bout’ three years ago and it became evident that if starvation was to be avoided I had to master the art of the grilled cheese sandwich.

I did some extensive reading on the subject from cookbooks that had a lot of butter in the recipes, most of which has been purged from the kitchen as we try to eat healthier by eating things that taste more like packaging than food.

I suppose the object here is to live as long as one can without actually enjoying the living. I will say this. Once you’ve had cardboard for about a month the taste buds seem to go away. Then, when actual food is re-introduced to the tongue, it brings tears to the eyes as one remembers what one has been missing. But I digress.

Over the course of the last three years I have made the grilled cheese in any number of ways, all of them bad for you but, very filling. I’ve discovered that the grilled cheese can be made from a variety of breads, most of which can be found at the “Pig” (short for Piggly Wiggly which, when you think about it, is a really weird name for a grocery store).

The bread ranges from white to black and if it stays on the counter for an extended period, you may see a little gray. Some breads have birdseed stuck to them but those can be picked off prior to grilling

When preparing the stove top, I like to set the temperature to maximum heat. Sometimes this might be a number or perhaps a letter. Matters not, simply turning the knob all the way to the left solves the problem. Or, I might go just one click to the right. This ensures partial burning of the half stick of butter, (margarine if you’re a health nut) into the bread at maximum efficiency, leaving the bread slightly hardened and dark in color. This is especially helpful when using week-old bread.

The type of cheese used is not an issue as you’re only going to taste the bread and butter once the thing comes off the grill. I suggest using the cheese as filler. The grilled cheese requires little equipment unless one wants to feel like a gourmet cook. If that’s the case, simply put on a hat when grilling and wear an apron with a slogan. “Bon appetit” comes to mind. That’s French for “I am starving.”

The hat can set the mood for the sandwich. For instance, if you want to stay with the French motif, wear a beret and eat it in the afternoon with tea. Put a picture of the Eiffel Tower on the counter top and you’re dining in France.

No decent grilled cheese presentation is complete without the added color of the dill pickle. The pickle comes in rounds, slices and spears and can be placed strategically on the plate to illicit maximum saliva production. Be careful, however, to not allow the grilled cheese to become ensconced in the pickle juice for that would render it soggy. It is a rarity when one finds someone who likes soggy grilled cheese.

Slicing the sandwich into halves or quarters will make it easier for you to place it on the side of the plate and avoid the juice altogether. The quarter slice can be easily devoured in just two bites.

If your health is still a concern, simply toss the sandwich in the nearest receptacle and eat the pickle. The rest of you may top off the meal with some chips and a Coke and you have the perfect imperfect meal for the imperfect person. That would be me.

Sonny Harmon is an educator at Georgia Military College. Visit his blog at www.sharmon09.blogspot.com.

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