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TV Chef Fucks Up Grilled-Cheese Sandwich

Listen. Alton Brown is a goddamn hero. He's funny and smart and silly and endlessly curious, and he knows five trillion times as much about food as I ever will. He's turned bazillions of people onto cooking, and onto trying ingredients and techniques they otherwise wouldn't, and his commendable willingness to interrogate received culinary wisdom has upended and improved all types of shit. Even if he's often needlessly insistent on precision, and some of his preparations can tend toward the Rube Goldbergian, I probably agree with him more often than not. The point is, all in all, Alton Brown is one of the good guys.

And: This, I am very sorry to report, is a pretty asinine way to make a grilled-cheese sandwich. I mean, for chrissakes. If you can get past the part where he rotates the foil-lined spatula-trays and says, "Now you're gonna have to move this around, and shift it several times during the six-to-nine minutes it's going to take to get nice and bubbly" without rolling your eyes at least a little bit, you might be Howard Hughes.

During the time it takes Alton Brown just to cook the cheese from his grilled-cheese sandwich (for six to nine minutes), separately from the bread, after he spent however much time it took to get a grill fire going and grate a bunch of cheese and slice a loaf of crusty artisanal bread and fashion a pair of specialized cheese-grilling trays out of already-specialized grilling spatulas lined with aluminum foil, you could make, like, a dozen unspeakably delicious grilled-cheese sandwiches in a friggin' pan, in your kitchen, and eat them, and make some more, and eat those.


I'm sure those are lovely sandwiches that Alton Brown is making. But: How much better could they really be? More to the point, what real person, with a real-person life and real-person time constraints, can plausibly respond to the craving for a grilled-cheese sandwich by breaking out their pair of grilling spatulas and fashioning them into cheese-grilling trays? Who the fuck even keeps a pair of grilling spatulas in their home? How many other things would you already have to own before it would ever occur to you to run out and buy not one specialized grilling spatula, but two of them?


The answer: Who cares? The life of a real person is a constant triangulation between the (metaphorical, but also not) sandwiches they'd most like to have, and the responsibilities and constraints and shrieking toddlers that make the all-or-nothing pursuit of those (metaphorical, but also not) sandwiches flatly impossible; the (metaphorical, but also not) sandwich you wind up with will be, at best, a sensible compromise between the two, and will be better for it, on top of however good it tastes.

Yes, what I am saying here is, down with elitist cheese sandwiches.

H/t Chris

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