Ode to the Grilled Cheese Sandwich

By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

Mull this over: a grilled cheese sandwich is one of life’s comfort and nourishing foods, especially when accompanied by a mouth-watering Honey Crisp apple. The same grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of steaming tomato soup also satisfies the soul.  And our souls demand much satisfaction in these turbulent times.

   On Saturday afternoons, my mother often made us grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch, accompanied by a bowl of soup, usually tomato or tomato and rice.  Inevitably a sliced apple or pear appeared on our TV trays. Saturday lunch was the day of the week when we could eat off the TV trays while watching one 30-minute television program. Sometimes we watched “The Flintstones or “The Jetsons” [talk about time travel]; other times we watched “Lassie” as we slowly ate our preferred luncheon repast.

   I derived great comfort from this Saturday luncheon ritual. The world made sense from my child’s perspective. It was safe; it was familiar; it was love; and the food tasted good, too. To this day, I sometimes turn to a grilled cheese sandwich in time of question, confusion, pain, and solace. My preferred cheese in this sandwich is American. Plain, I know, but savory none-the-less, on Sara Lee Whole Wheat bread, or on slices of Italian or French bread. Sometimes I add leaves of fresh spinach to brighten the pale orange landscape on the toasted bread. Even my cat Valentino, foodie that he is, likes bits of grilled cheese; he is fine with melted American cheese. Neither of us needs Gruyere or Cheddar or Fontina; we’re copasetic with the classic American cheese with a bowl of tomato soup and a Honey Crisp apple on the side. 


  Ciao for now.

Eating Through the Weekend

Pasta Carbonara is a classic Italian quick dinner to put together.-www.tangledpasta.net
Pasta Carbonara is a classic Italian meal that goes together quickly.- http://www.tangledpasta.net

By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

As the weekend draws to a close, I am reminded that I did a fair amount of cooking, which is something I love to do. In a sense, though, we rather ate our way around a part of the world.

On Friday night we dined on Shepherd’s Pie, which is quite out of character for an Italian, but periodically, I like to eat outside of the box. There is something lovely and comforting about a British Isle food that is smothered with mashed potatoes on its top. Saturday morning I made Julie Child’s Quiche aux Oignons for brunch with fresh blueberries on the side. Delicious, if I do say so myself! Her Mastering the Art of French Cooking is one of my favorite cookbooks in my collection.

Much later that day we would up at O’Rourke’s Pub. It was overflowing with people, but we managed to snare table. After watching the servers carry plates of food past us several times, we settled on Angus beef burgers. I chose smoked Gouda cheese and sautéed mushrooms on mine. My daughter opted for Cheddar cheese on hers and the sautéed mushrooms. A post-hockey game crowd was drawn to the pub. It was loud, with music blaring, and multiple screens showing different games nationwide. After a couple of hours, I was ready to vacate the premises since I wanted to unbutton the top of my jeans from the effects of garlic-laced French fries and pretzel bun cheeseburger overload.

This sunny Sunday morning, I made buttermilk and honey pancakes because we apparently didn’t ingest enough carbs the previous day. I worked on book revisions yesterday and today, finally deciding we needed to partake of UV rays in the great outdoors. Tonight’s dinner consisted of Pasta Carbonara with Whole Foods’ as-pure-as-one-can-get bacon, half and half, Parmesan cheese, parsley, lemon, and olive oil. On the side we had spinach with olive oil and fresh lemon. All in all, we feasted on British, Irish [beer, anyway], French, and Italian food over the weekend.

I’m thinking we may need to order sushi for tomorrow….or Panda Express.

Ciao for now.