Life Narrated

The grilled cheese gene


When I was a little girl, my mom cooked all the time. We rarely ever had anything that was not ‘from scratch’. Pretty much every morsel was homemade. Somewhere around age eight when I discovered canned chicken noodle soup (which I loved), I was in heaven. I don’t know how I missed it the first few years of life, but I did. I requested it frequently. While some people eat grilled cheese sandwiches alongside tomato soup, for me I was always more inclined to chicken noodle soup! So from time to time, I had a bowl of soup with a buttery grilled sandwich with ooey-gooey melted cheese inside.

When I hit adulthood, I learned something about myself. I enjoy cooking and regularly dish up delicious meals for my family. I enjoy rummaging through recipe boxes and cookbooks for new treats. I am able to cook a lot of meals strictly by memory and can make up new recipes without much work. It comes naturally to me. But I have determined that there is one cooking gene I apparently do not have. That is the grilled cheese gene.

I have been a parent for twenty-one years now and have attempted to make grilled cheese sandwiches a thousand times. And maybe once out of those thousand times it turned out okay. The rest of the time, it’s been a giant mess! I get the process. I know about having the heat turned to the right level. I understand buttering the bread and having a good spatula. I really do “get” how to make a good grilled cheese. But for the life of me, it just never works out. I either burn the whole thing, have the heat too high so the outer crust of the bread is charred but the cheese is still cold, or I don’t have the heat high enough and the bread stays mushy and rolls into a ball when I try to flip the sandwich. It’s just never good. At one point, I even tried just toasting the bread, throwing a slice of cheese between the two pieces & quickly tossing it on a plate in hopes that my kids wouldn’t realize that wasn’t a ‘real’ grilled cheese. But sooner or later they figured out my tricky ways.

The best part about not having the grilled cheese making gene is that my husband definitely DOES have the gene. His grilled cheese sandwiches are always so yummy. They are perfectly crispy on the outside and the cheese is melted just right. In our house, when someone wants a grilled cheese sandwich, that job goes to dad!

Last week, my son made himself a sandwich one night and declared that he was going to try to make grilled cheese. I urged him to get instruction from his dad because if I told him how it would be a mess. He determined that, after having worked in the kitchen at a couple of restaurants, he could certainly figure it out on his own. He really tried to work out all the details but ended up with several pieces of torn up, gooey buttered bread on a plate and he just tossed a slice of cheese on top of the mound of dough. When I came into the room and saw it, I had to laugh and point out that his grilled cheese was “just like mom makes!” I told him that he could make it for his kids and tell them that he used his mom’s recipe. While he can cook plenty of other things, apparently Sam did not inherit the grilled cheese gene either. (Sorry, kiddo!)


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