Grilled cheese is one of the most classic American foods. Many foods have changed over the years, but the grilled cheese sandwich fortunately has maintained its classic form of bread and cheese. Grilled cheese is most popular among American children, most of which claim it is their favorite food. It is a sandwich perfect for lunch, dinner or an afternoon snack. And for busy moms, the grilled cheese sandwich is simple to make and simple to eat.
Food historians believe most ancient cultures enjoyed the combination of cooked bread and cheese. However, the written recipes found from Ancient Rome and other continents did not describe what Americans think of as the modern grilled cheese sandwich. Instead the Romans typically ate a heated loaf of bread with thick slices of cheese served alongside.
The actual inventor of the American grilled cheese sandwich is unknown, but historians agree it was likely created in the 1920s because during this decade sliced bread and processed cheese became widely available to the American public. The Regular Joe could afford to cook a grilled cheese sandwich even in the midst the Great Depression.
In addition, Navy cookbooks described an “American cheese filling sandwiches” being popular in naval kitchens. The U.S. Government could now serve a sandwich that was economical and met nutritional standards. Soon school cafeterias and other institutional kitchens were serving grilled cheese sandwiches alongside tomato soup.
in the 1920’s – 1950’s, the grilled cheese consisted of a piece of bread with cheese melted on top (similar to cheese toast). The top piece of bread, creating an actual sandwich, became popular in the 1960’s, possibly because it made the sandwich more filling. The grilled cheese sandwich has become so ingrained in our culture that in 2007, Kraft decided to use it to revive their Kraft Singles brand.
Making a grilled cheese is easy – all a cook has to do is place cheese between two layers of bread and heat until the bread is crisp and the cheese is melted. However, the grilled cheese, like so many other American classics, is versatile. Modern chefs have modified the grilled cheese by substituting Gruyere, Swiss or Colby Jack cheese. Other chefs combine the cheese with other ingredients such as spinach, peppers, tomatoes, or even artichokes. Most cooks typically butter the bread before cooking. Lastly, a grilled cheese can be cooked on a griddle, a standard grill, a skillet, or a Panini grill.
Grilled cheese is famous for being an American classic, but it also gained notoriety in 2004 when a grilled cheese containing a supposed likeness of the Virgin Mary sold for $28,000. Every April, thousands of cooks compete to make the best grilled cheese sandwich in The Grilled Cheese Invitational. Have you enjoyed a grilled cheese sandwich lately?