There’s something incredibly comforting about a grilled cheese sandwich. The joy that I felt when my mom would put a plate of grilled cheese and a glass of milk down in front of me as a kid was nearly unparalleled: it still is, to this day. My last lunch at home was a grilled cheese sandwich—the perfect way to mark my last day before heading off to Kenyon. I’ve been a fan of grilled cheese (all cheeses, to be honest) for all of my life. What a journey it’s been… And my love for the flaky golden goodness that is a grilled cheese sandwich continues to burn bright. [bf_image id="q2y185-uxsg8-92fohe"]
My relationship with grilled cheese began in an interesting way. I didn’t start out by eating grilled cheese, but “butter-and-cheese” (as my mom so affectionately referred to them) sandwiches in my lunchbox at school. Simply put, the uncooked version of a grilled cheese. It may sound gross to some of you—I always get at least one wrinkled nose when I relay the constant staple in my household growing up. That slowly transformed into grilled cheese sandwiches. My mom would either make them with whole wheat bread or hamburger buns—the perfect lunch for coming home after a half-day at school.
I always thought that grilled cheese was good. I enjoyed it and it was pretty much all that I ate for ages. I was very particular about the kind of cheese (always American from the counter at the grocery store in town) and had to make sure that it was perfectly cooked. All of this being said, though, if you gave me a grilled cheese, I would eat it. Truth be told, I’m getting really hungry while writing this article. My “next step” with grilled cheese was courtesy of my grandma. With white bread and potato chips, it felt like the quintessential meal one afternoon at my aunt’s house. My love of grilled cheese wasn’t limited to just one grandma—my mom’s mom also supported my love of grilled cheese, although she encouraged me to add something more to the simple sandwich on the many occasions that I had lunch with her at her retirement home. “How about a slice of tomato? Or some bacon? Try something new with it!” But I was set on my simple grilled cheese. It was all that I needed.
Now, I make my own grilled cheese—something that became essential over quarantine. I remember casually mentioning to my parents one afternoon that I had mastered the art of the perfect grilled cheese. With either sourdough or hearty white bread and three slices of cheese, I was able to master a perfect savory bite each time I stepped into the kitchen. I’m realizing that I sound a bit like a wanna-be chef in this article, with the variety of breads that I’m listing and my overall obsession with grilled cheese. I will reply that I’m simply a turophile: a cheese-lover (many thanks to Professor Serfass from the Classics dept. for providing me with that term!).
My love affair with grilled cheese hasn’t stopped at Kenyon. Between late-night dining hall grilled cheese or a two-cheese grilled cheese with tomato bisque from the deli on a Saturday morning (highly recommend), I’ve continued to fulfill my ever-continuing need for grilled cheese. I can’t wait for my next one. One thing’s for sure: the childlike sense of wonderment I feel with every bite from a grilled cheese hasn’t faded yet—and I sure hope it continues for years to come.