Sandwich Struggle

Confession time. I have a problem. Sandwiches have always been a struggle for me. Such a pity, since I love nothing more than the idea of a sandwich. What could be better than a bounty of wonderful ingredients slapped between two thick pieces of bread? Maybe it’s toasted, maybe it’s not. Either way, it’s sure to be delicious as you bite into it and your taste buds are overwhelmed with a flurry of flavors. For me, this is the moment where the train grinds to a screeching halt.

I have a condiment conundrum. Going all the way back to when I was just a tiny little Taste Bud, sandwich condiments have repulsed me. Mayonnaise? Forget about it. That thick, creamy white substance will never touch my sliced bread. Uh-oh. Do you hear that? That music? It’s getting louder. Could it be? It’s building in a slow, but definite condiment crescendo. It sounds like the music from the shower scene in the Hitchcock classic Psycho. This could only mean one thing…

AHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Horror of horrors! Don’t even think about getting any of this stuff within a 50 foot radius of me. Simply taking this picture was enough to make me break out in a cold sweat. I’m not meaning to direct all of my disgust toward the bright yellow mustard. I’m an equal opportunity hater when it comes to any mustard. Dijon, spicy, whole-grain, German, English, Chinese, Bordeaux – I hate ’em all. My dilemma should be quite clear at this point. If I can’t stomach any of the popular condiments, how am I able to eat sandwiches? I have one word. Dry. Think Sahara Desert dry. Perhaps even Atacama Desert dry – the driest desert in the world.

Yes, I’ve choked down many a dry sandwich in my day, much to my own displeasure. Thankfully, there is one sandwich that solves my struggle. A sandwich that stands out above all of the rest. A sandwich that requires no condiments to be absolutely and utterly fabulous. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the grilled cheese sandwich has arrived to save the day and take me out of the doldrums of dryness forever.

Like a sandwich symphony, the grilled cheese has it all. Let us take a moment to marvel at its beauty.

My hero! What’s not to love about this? Two thick pieces of bread oozing with cheesy goodness. Even better, these wonderful creations are grilled up using lots of one of my favorite ingredients – butter! Everything is better with butter. I should print bumper stickers with this slogan. Now back to our grilled cheese…

The options are overwhelming. You can experiment with the type of bread. You can experiment with the type of cheese. If you’re feeling especially feisty, you can even mix and match your cheeses. Don’t be afraid to add other ingredients to the party. I’ve been known to put bacon in my grilled cheese sandwiches. Why? Everything is better with bacon. I should print bumper stickers with this slogan. Why do I keep getting sidetracked with visions of bumper sticker grandeur today? Back to our sandwich! Let your imagination run wild. See that ripe avocado on your counter? That could make a wonderful addition to your next grilled cheese creation. How about those juicy tomatoes that will be coming in by the bushel this summer? Why not add a slice or two? Do what tastes good to YOU.

Most importantly, the grilled cheese sandwich beautifully solves my condiment conundrum. No condiments are required, because these culinary creations were made for dunking! Grilled cheese and soup go hand in hand. They’re a match made in heaven. Bellying up to the table with a grilled cheese sandwich and a steaming bowl of soup sends my taste buds into hysterics and gets my heart all aflutter. What kind of soup should you use for the dunking experience? Use your favorite, of course. There are no rules. If it is appetizing to your taste buds, then you have made the correct soup selection.

As I pick up the grilled cheese and give it that satisfying dip into my bowl, I see it soaking up even more flavor, while getting a nice dose of hydration and moisture. Your soup becomes a spa for your sandwich, accentuating its intrinsic beauty. That first bite is pure bliss. No condiments needed here. Mayonnaise and mustard can take a hike! Grilled cheese, I salute you!

What’s your favorite grilled cheese and soup combination?

Happy dunking,

The Taste Bud

8 responses

  1. Brantley, you mean to tell me that you don’t even slather butter on a yummy sliced turkey sandwich? Surely you do butter, other than on grilled cheese sandwiches. I grew up on butter on sandwiches – okay, mayo too on occasion, but I’ve learned to avoid mayo now. As for my favorite? My vote goes to — grilled cheese made the traditional way with American cheese, along with Campbell’s tomato soup made with whole milk. Now *that* is comfort food!

    • Believe it or not, I don’t slather butter on any other sandwich. Shocking, right? I’m thinking about creating a grilled cheese with crab meat and Old Bay. I think that has potential – and I’m sure you would agree!

  2. My favorite gilled cheese sandwich is sharp cheddar on sourdough. I had this for the first time about 12 years ago when I was still a student at UVA. It was amazing. Since then, I’ve never been able to eat a “regular” grilled cheese sandwich. There’s something about the processed American that just doesn’t do it for me anymore. Even cheddar on wheat or white bread is better (by the way, cheddar makes everything better…). And the sandwich must be grilled so that the crust is a crispy golden brown with the slightest hint of a crunch as you bite into it. Anything less, it’s still just bread. Anything more, it’s toast. As a variation, I’ve made this combination with bacon before (I love bacon), but you have to be careful not to overdo the bacon or else it’ll be too salty. I’ve also tried this with bacon and tomato. But nothing beats the dynamic combo of just cheddar and sourdough!

  3. I only like Mayo on turkey sandwiches, but nothing else. I love mustard …love it, love it. I used to think yellow mustard was gross – like eating a ray of sunshine. It was too neon. But once I got pregnant with my second child it was all I wanted. The one sandwich I like dry is salami.

    Seeing as you hate mustard, do you put ketchup on your hot dogs?

    • For hot dogs, I use ketchup, and GOBS of it. Interestingly, I didn’t even acquire a taste for ketchup until I was nearly out of high school! So maybe there’s still hope – my taste buds might come around to mayo and mustard at some point. But I’m not holding my breath!

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