Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day – Who knew?

Today (April 12) is Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day. I have no idea why it is today. It simply is. And what a great day to celebrate this comfort-food staple, as Spring continues to appear without confidence and in poor weather taste.

Speaking of taste, who can resist warm, melted cheese on a favourite bread, white or brown, seedy or crusty. Any bread will do, though for me I prefer Sourdough. Grilled as a sandwich in a frying pan or open under the broiler, you can’t really go wrong. Many kids first attempt grilled cheese sandwiches in their cooking adventures. At least this is what Chef Michael Howell says. Wolfville Nova Scotia baker Michael is the Champion of the 2010 Great Canadian Grilled Cheese Cookoff. In his interview with CBC Kamloops Shelley Joyce (interview commences at 32:00) on Wednesday, April 12 he encouraged Shelley and everyone who listened–including me–to run to the store, or to the frig, or to the bakery, and participate in an annual anniversary ritual.

For Chef Michael “the cheese is most important; the bread is the boat which carries the cargo” He grew up with it. What began as Cheese Whiz on toast became cheddar on top of bread covered with apple sauce. I remember my parents adding strips of bacon or ham, something with onions. The cheese however made everything work, brilliantly.

There are many different ideas about the history of the meal. For some,  there are Welsh origins; others think the Romans had something similar. Either way, there was a surge of interest and innovation in 1920s North America. The American Navy won the war in the Pacific even before Kraft slices were available. As for Ketchup, well he took the fifth on that. The combination of sweet and savory is hard to resist, but sometimes, well, one must choose. Chef Michael says that secret sauce, cheese, and fruit are the way to go. Best in class would include smoked gouda, sourdough bread, topped off with either lemon marmalade or mango chutney.

So what about restaurants? There is a place for high-end Grilled Cheese fare. Should G/C always be “cheap and cheery.” Not necessarily. There is a place for the high end $17 USD G/C combo he recently enjoyed in New York. (And let’s face it, you could pay that here in the South Okanagan these days.) What about pairings. Chef Michael lives near the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia. Apples are everywhere. Go with what you’ve got. Apple Cider.

So how did he win the 2010 championship? His winning recipe included fresh figs, arugula, lemon aioli, prosciutto, on a ciabatta bun, grilled off. Try this at home friends. If you do, you’re not alone. Did you know that “the grilled cheese sandwich — almost everybody has their own version–is truly one of the great comfort foods of all time. And here’s a fact for you: Some three-quarters of people who buy sliced cheese make at least one grilled cheese a month.” It’s no surprise that the menu of the soon-to-emerge Zeller’s food trucks will include Grilled Cheese along with the Big Z Burger, Hot Chicken Sandwich, Chicken Fingers and Fries & Gravy. Sadly they will not include onion rings. Sigh!

For those about to make their first G/S gird your loins and take courage. “The Joy of Cooking” (1953), Irma S. Rombauer wrote that bread and cheese should be heated in a commercial waffle iron — an easy meal for even “the maidless host” to prepare.” This is good news friends. Bon Appetit.

One thought on “Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day – Who knew?

Add yours

  1. I use sliced onion with mine———mother always made what she called cheezie wee wees
    Had slices of bacon on it


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: