Saturday, April 11, 2015

Food Watch: "One Grilled Cheese Is Not Enough, Two Grilled Cheese Are Too Many" (Beejoli Shah)


by Ken

In case your calendar isn't already marked, tomorrow is National Grilled Cheese Day. In case you already have plans that don't involved grilled cheese, or a one-day celebration just won't cut it in your faith, April is also Grilled Cheese Month.

Last year here at DWT we really did it up, National Grilled Cheese Day ("Don't Forget to Celebrate National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day").

Yes, we had it all: not only the $100 grilled-cheese sandwich but an assortment of variations on the theme that I can now reveal were made up in-house with a view to seeing how much assault your tummy can withstand. We even got in on the parallel celebration that is National Licorice Day. Naturally there's a temptation just to reprint last year's post as a sort of Holiday Classic, but that would be resting on our laurels, and we don't do that here. Okay, not too much.

Unlike certain other sites, like Punchbowl, which is serving up last year's tribute to National Grilled Cheese Day with nothing changed that I can see except the year. Well, two can play at that game, so in the following picked-up artwork just pretend that we've changed the year from 2014 to 2015:

But for a fresh take on the subject this year, we turn to The Frisky's Beejoli Shah and a post that by uncanny coincidence has the exact same title as this one: "One Grilled Cheese Is Not Enough, Two Grilled Cheese Are Too Many." Now are you going to tell me this isn't an attention-getter?

"The worst part about cooking for yourself," Beejoli begins, "is portion control."
It’s not that I’m incapable of cutting a recipe in half, it’s that I have no clue what I’m going to do with the remainder of the rapidly decaying cutlets pathetically lounging in their styrofoam tray, and that’s how you end up with 43 panko-parmesan chicken nuggets when to be quite honest a solid 11 would have sufficed the cravings for a snack that invoked a simpler time.
This lands her, perhaps unfortunately, in the quagmire of an attempted definition of the term "comfort food." As soon as she wrote, "A lot of what I eat when I cook for myself falls into this comfort food arena," she should have had the sense to backtrack, or at least not get sucked in. Comfort food is comfort food; we know it when we smell it, and I say let's just leave it at that.

The upshot is: "I make grilled cheese sandwiches a lot." And who doesn't? Certainly nobody who's read this far in a post titled "One Grilled Cheese Is Not Enough, Two Grilled Cheese Are Too Many." Does this really require historical inquiry? I can't help thinking that Beejoli has been drawn into yet another byway too many:
As with all diminishing returns, the amount of joy those sandwiches invoke in me now is significantly lessened in comparison to when I used to grill two for myself in the early evenings of my senior year of high school, before rushing back to campus to cheerlead at varsity basketball games. In those days, and the ensuing college and post-college years, I could put away two grilled cheese sandwiches no problem, maybe even contemplate a third, before rushing off to wherever I was going. I was always going somewhere in those days because that’s what being young is, you’re like a shark, if you stop moving, you die.
But at least this lands us where we want to be. "Nowadays," she writes, "putting away two sandwiches is significantly harder."
One sandwich never leaves you feeling fully sated, but two sandwiches are half a sandwich too many, pushing you towards uncomfortably full as you try to wash down the remaining halves of butter-soaked bread. And even from a non-gustatory standpoint, two sandwiches are just too much. One grilled cheese sandwich, made sparingly in times of absolute hunger or emotional low points, is a good jump start to being comforted by food. It doesn’t bring you close enough to the finish line, but it’s a start. But get to that second sandwich and you’re just the person who hasn’t grown up in a lot of ways, culinary or otherwise.
Focus, Beejoli! Focus!
I still haven’t mastered portion control in my eating for that reason, or boundaries in my life for similar reasons. But what I have figured out, even if I don’t know how to move past it: one grilled cheese is not enough, but two grilled cheese are too many.
Point taken. And the point isn't to somehow "move past it," but to recognize it. Of course now that we live in an era of thousands if not tens of thousands of possible grilled-cheese combinations, there's theoretically not issue of monotony in testing that hypothetical second grilled cheese. Theoretically, anyway. Just from a conceptual standpoint, isn't the idea of that second grilled cheese going to the well once too often?

I don't say I've never done it, and won't ever do it again. But at least now I will have a clear sighting of the line I'm crossing. Which is that while "one grilled cheese is not enough," two is just too many. It's nature's law.



At 7:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like that my birthday is on Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day!

At 10:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's my hubby's birthday!

I like to make three sandwiches and share, 1-1/2 each. That solves the "one is not enough, two are too many" problem.

At 4:41 PM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Ah, THREE grilled cheeses for TWO people -- excellent! Just wait till the dating and matchmaking sites get a hold of this! Their business should go through the roof!

And of course happy birthday to everyone who double-celebrated today. I hope you folks don't have cheapskate loved ones and friends who took advantage of the cheap gift opportunity. (Can you gift-wrap a grilled cheese? Maybe in parchment paper?)



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