It was a warm, fall day and I was five years old again. I was playing on our back balcony. It was mid day. My mother, who had been out there with me, went into the house to make our lunch.
She surprised me with my all time favourite, which we ate outside. Campbell’s tomato rice soup. With saltines crumbled on top. And grilled cheese sandwiches.
Honestly, it was as if I was teleported back in time. I could feel the warmth of the sun on my face and arms. I could hear her asking me if I was hungry. I could see the curls of smoke rising out of the bowl of soup; and feel the first spoonful burn my lips and tongue. I could taste the acidic tartness of the tomatoes. And I could see the melted cheese oozing out from between the slices of buttery, grilled bread.
The images flashing before my eyes were so real, I could see her buttering both sides of the bread (plain, white, sliced sandwich loaf), putting a slice of yellow Kraft cheese between the two pieces and putting the sandwich into the special ‘device’ she had.
What it was called, I don’t remember. All I know is, although it wasn’t big, it was as heavy as lead. She used both hands to pick it up. It was round, and had a long handle. Like a lollipop, but obviously much, much bigger.
Only thing I can’t remember is how it got hot. I can’t remember if it plugged in, or if she put it on a hot burner.
Makes no sense that it was round, because she only ever used it for grilled cheese sandwiches and the bread was sort of rectangular. Certainly not round. Even then I wanted to know why it wasn’t the same shape as the bread. I don’t know if I ever got an answer to that question. I just know I asked it, every time we used it.
Anyway, it was hinged at the back. So you would open it up flat, put the sandwich in, and then close it again. And of course, the sandwich would get squished, as well as grilled.
Call me picky, but it is not a grilled cheese sandwich, if it’s not squished flat. For that matter, I don’t think it’s a grilled cheese sandwich if you use designer bread. You know what I mean: Thick slides of umpteen grain, with added spelt and flax and honey and seeds and nuts of every description.
Nor do I think it’s a grilled cheese sandwich if you use brie, or havarti, or three different cheeses. Or stick slices of apple in it. Or cranberry sauce. Or avocado.
Okay, so I’m a purist. Sue me. Some things should not be messed with. They are perfect the way they are. The grilled cheese sandwich fits into that category. Leave it be, please.
Good, old fashioned white sandwich loaf, with absolutely no nutritional value. And plain old American (or Canadian) Kraft slices. I even resent the use of Kraft Singles. They don’t taste the same. But in Canada they no longer have the original slices.
As I’m sitting here, writing this, I’m drooling. My mouth is watering. You know that, don’t you? But I have none of the ingredients. Unfortunately. There’s probably a visit to the grocery store in my future, now.
And it’s all thanks to a blogger I follow. Yesterday morning Cheri wrote about when she was a kid. Guess what her favourite rainy day comfort food was? You got it. In her case it was part of a bigger story about a recent experience she’d had with her own kids.
But just that one reference was all I needed. What about you? What are some of your favourite childhood memories? What are some of your favourite childhood meals?