An old saying notes that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but I say it’s important to fall in love with your own cooking first. When most kids are receiving six packs from their parents for their 21st birthday, my “Happy Birthday” wrapping paper unveiled a recipe box with dozens of blank index cards. It was a present that made me red with mortification in front of my equally confused onlooking friends, but my mother assured me it would make me “very domestic.”
The comment only made me more embarrassed; yet as always, she knew she was right way before I could realize it. The cards now serve their purpose with each of my crazy culinary concoctions, which include graduation-themed cupcakes, zucchini fries and asparagus omelets. A friend of mine who goes to school in New York City is a self-proclaimed “Fordham Foodie” who probably spends more money than I make in a month scouring the items of markets and cultural grocery stores to find ingredients for her outlandish, yet tasty recipes.
I, on the other hand, open my fridge and imagine the damage I can do with what I have; the reason for which I call my resourceful creations “concoctions.” The best, without a doubt, is my “specialty” grilled cheese. I’d like to say it’d give Matt Fish of Melt Bar and Grilled a run for his money, but I don’t want to sound too conceited about my grilled cheese sandwich-making abilities.
The obsession began years before Fish’s restaurant and I crossed paths. Most likely the weird fascination began around the age of 10 when my friend and I pressed M&Ms into the slices of melted American cheese layering the sandwiches my Grandma had made for us (don’t knock it ‘til you try it).
This strange hobby continued in college, even with a failed attempt in the cafeteria freshman year: I tried running the sandwich open-faced through the bagel-toaster (it began smoking). The workers weren’t too happy, and I have a feeling I’m part of the reason for the Panini maker’s presence after the matter.
Mainly, it’s my obsession with cheese and the intermingling of different tastes within the layers of the sandwich that make it delicious enough to be called gourmet. My recipe is the perfect combination of sweet and salty, along with the sweet acidic flavor of the dipping sauce. It has the crispy and buttery taste of a typical grilled cheese sandwich, but the layers stacked between its slices are what evoke the many “mmmmms” you’ll hear.
I apologize for leading your taste buds on, but I’m not going to reveal the method to my grilled-cheese madness. Find what you have in your refrigerator and make one that best serves your tastes. My recipe will remain a secret kept within the confines of my 21st birthday present.
Oh, and it did prove the old saying right.