Branding, Promotion… and Grilled Cheese

grilled cheeseDeep in deadline hell, peeps. For me, this usually means a scattered attention span, a lot of mumbling under my breath — and a hair trigger around things that seem trivial, almost stupid.

So yesterday, I tripped on one of these triggers.  Thankfully, after a few years of doing this, I’ve been able to recognize it and hold my tongue… mostly. But I wanted to blog about it today.

Then I realized:

1) I am still in “RantyPants” mode.

2) I needed to write a different post first, to set the stage for the second, hopefully non-ranting post later.

So this is that prelude post.  It’s also a proxy. Or a parable, or a metaphor.

And it’s also a passionate love story. But not the way you’d think.

My undying devotion to grilled cheese.

I love grilled cheese.  With a crazed, almost unhealthy passion, I adore grilled cheese.

It incorporates my mad passion for three things:  bread, cheese, and butter.  There are a million different combinations and treatments that still fall under the “grilled cheese” umbrella.  (I love a few different variations, but tend to gravitate towards my favorite:  sourdough and cheddar.  Preferably with a bowl of tomato soup.)

There’s also a surprising number of ways to create said grilled cheese.  Pan of hot, foamy butter on the stovetop is my personal favorite.  If you’ve got the means, there’s the panini press.  There’s the sideways toaster (not for the faint of heart!)  And for the desperate college student in all of us, there’s the iron. (Personally, I’d advise against the steam setting.)

Not everyone loves grilled cheese.

I’ll admit.  This sometimes baffles me.

Every now and then, I’ll share my passion:  “God, love me some grilled cheese!”

And I’ll get push back from different foodie camps.

There are those that want to “elevate” the simple grilled cheese.  “What, you’re using storebought cheddar?  And pre-sliced sourdough?  Oh my God, how plebian!  Don’t be lazy.  You should make your own bread!  And cheese!  And churn your own butter and add organic watercress and sauteed sourkraut!  And it should be deconstructed!  Who eats grilled cheese assembled?”

(You might think I’m kidding.  Check out sometime.)

Then, there are those who recoil in horror.  “Grilled cheese?  It’s so unhealthy!  All that saturated fat!  Butter?  And those carbs? And refined wheat??  There’s no nutritional value there!  Instead, why don’t you have kale chips?  Or a nice spinach salad?  If you must, at least have soy cheese on sprouted quinoa peasant bread, no butter, just grilled?”

My grilled cheese is not your grilled cheese (but your grilled cheese is okay.)

I’ve made my own bread.  (Love to, in fact.)  And I would like to try making my own cheese and butter some day.  And I love some upscale variations:  wilted spinach, caramelized onion and brie on sourdough is actually lovely.  Pear & bacon with havarti, divine.  I have nothing against “dressing up” or adding a layer of complexity to what can be considered a “common” item. I do draw the line at deconstructing however, because then it’d be like… I don’t know, bread nachos.  Not really my thing.

I know that grilled cheese can’t be the staple of my diet.  Three meals a day of grilled cheese would mean that when I died because my arteries essentially caulked themselves shut, they’d probably need to get a crane to extricate me from my house.

That said, I believe in moderation in everything.  Even virtue.

I enjoy the occasional kale chip.  I’ve had lovely spinach salads.  I love sashimi, and a nice chilled gaspacho, and the crisp bite of a Braeburn apple.  But I am still making my grilled cheese, and welcome you to eat what you like.


Being a beacon.

I wish I had a picture, but you’ll just have to imagine:  when I eat grilled cheese, I get this goofy, gleeful smile on my face.  Pure, childlike happiness.  Wriggling puppy happy.

Now, imagine me in someplace like Grand Central Station.  There’s a mad bumping crowd of people, all doing their own thing, waiting for trains, what have you.

And I am wearing a T-shirt that says:  I love grilled cheese.  And I’m eating a grilled cheese.  I’m all but humming with a vibration of grilled-cheese love.  And I’m sitting in front of a grilled cheese truck.

Give it about fifteen, twenty minutes.  After that, I am willing to bet that someone comes up to me.  And says:  “You too?  I loved grilled cheese!”

At which point we will start chatting and sit down at a table as I point out the amazing grilled cheese cart where I purchased my sandwich.  And she’ll get a sandwich.  And other people will walk up, ask about the sandwich, and hear us laughing and cavorting about grilled cheese.  Like moths to a lantern, suddenly a tribe of grilled-cheese eaters will be swapping recipes and talking about favorite sandwiches, I kid you not.   It will be cheese-a-palooza up in this joint.  Cheese-tastic cheesyness.

I didn’t have to do anything.  I just sat there, lovin’ my grilled cheese. In public.

I’m here to share grilled cheese love.

On this blog, I’m going to tell you about the grilled cheese I love.  And I’m going to share with you some of my favorite recipes and best practices on how I make grilled cheese.  And give you some ideas and twists on how to try different things with your grilled cheese. And to smile and celebrate the simple love of this delicious food item.

I am not going to judge your grilled cheese.

If you consciously like your grilled cheese on day-old stale Wonderbread with spray cheese… you knock yourself out.

If you make your grilled cheese on your car engine as you drive home… you go, car-B-Q grilled cheeser!

I’m also not going to say:  “let us go forth, my mad mass of Grilled Cheeseheads!  Let us transform the masses with the epiphany of the greatness of our sandwich!  At dawn, we ride!!”

(Okay, I may say that once.  Just because it makes me giggle like hell.)

Bottom line:  I’m just over here.  Eatin’ a sandwich.  Being happy.

You know I’m not really talking about a sandwich.

At least, I hope I got that across.

But the bottom line is — I love you guys.  This blog isn’t about dogma, or exclusion, or telling you that you need to be any different than you are.  Yes, some things may bug the hell out of me — but that’s me, not you.

I’m just here to share what I know, from what I’ve experienced.  You’re free to take the advice, or not.   You’ve got nothing to prove, to me, or to anyone.

Now if you’ll excuse me… I’m going to rustle up some grub. 😀