Grilled Cheese Sandwich in Quarantine

Food for Thought

Day 6. I don’t think one should use fancy cheese for a grilled cheese sandwich. Processed American cheese is the right choice. My bread was cold because I had it in the fridge to make it last a long time. I microwaved it for 15 seconds. It came out steaming hot. My butter was cold too, so I had to microwave it for 10 seconds.

It has to be spread evenly, edge to edge. It reminded me of when I was a studio assistant for a painter who had me prepare large canvases with a thick layer of modeling paste and gesso. She wanted the mix to bleed off the edges slightly so that they would look like the decorative edges of handmade paper.

The American cheese too was cold. Since each is wrapped in plastic, I sandwiched it between my hands and said my prayer to Buddha. It turned flabby.

I had the cast iron skillet sitting on low flame while I prepared the bread and cheese. The first slice of bread went on it butter-side down. I then carefully laid down four slices of cheese—the edges, again, peeking out slightly. Yes, four. This is American cuisine. America is about excess. After you finish eating it, there should be some melted cheese sticking to the plate. You scrape it off and eat it too. You have to be a little vulgar.

I placed the second slice of bread on top with the butter-side up. The flame should be as low as possible. From here, patience is the main technique. This part is not very American, or maybe it is. If you imagined yourself to be a cowboy sitting by a campfire looking at the sunset, the time might pass quicker.

Every now and then, you peek at the bottom by lifting it slightly with a turner. I like it a bit burnt. It symbolizes the American ruggedness for me.

This side takes a little less time, so you need to keep your eye on it—like a father watching his kid play, pretending as though he is not watching. Some amount of cheese dripped to the skillet, but that’s a good thing—crispy caramelized cheese adds to the ruggedness.

Only sissies cut it in half. Why? Are you going to save half of it? Too many calories? Or, are you afraid that the cheese will drip on your fancy shirt? Goddamnit; just grab it and bite into it. America is tough.