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America is fascinating to me. It blows my mind how huge the place is, how the cultures within this one country are so poles (and time zones) apart, and how hugely we in our small England differ from the USA even though we speak the same language. I love the fact that America’s history is so different to ours, how everything is so new and man made, but most of all I love the FOOD.
My friend Kirsty is working in New York City at the moment and it was really interesting speaking to her at the weekend about the differences between how she consumes food in London and across the Atlantic (yes, really). She eats so many more takeaways than she ever did at home, but she blames this on the fact that there are no supermarket or chain-type shops in the city. If she wants to do a big grocery shop then she is at the mercy of the prices of Whole Foods or a similar organic independant. And once you’ve shopped there you may as well have paid to eat out.
She also says that the American’s takeaway culture is so different to ours – she often has brown rice with stir fried veg for dinner, for example, and it’s fresh and healthy rather than greasy and fatty as it may well be from a UK takeaway. The New York City takeaway choices are many and varied and aren’t just one of fish & chips, chinese, indian or pizza.
Anyway, I may find this fascinating but I digress, as I expect most don’t.
I love to read blogs containing American recipes, especially ones like Kara‘s as she cooks normal family food. There’s a definite difference in the meals we eat: I cook loosely based on the meat and two veg principle (bar pasta, but even with asian influenced dishes I will often add in an extra side of veg) and Kara’s food is more varied in terms of origin, spices and other ingredients.
One thing I know the Americans beat us hands-down at is their Grilled Cheese Sandwich. Not a cheese toastie, but grilled cheese, which is a bit misleading as it isn’t actually grilled but cooked in a frying pan. I craved these lots at the start of my pregnancy and when I was feeling at my worst they were very easy to whip up in minutes.
I believe it’s common in the US to serve these with soup, but I like mine on their own or with coleslaw bought from the deli, eaten lying down on the sofa in front of the TV. Elfie is also a fan though due to the high fat content of the sandwich and lack of other nutrients I try to give these to her on special occasions only.
To get the proper American feel to this sandwich I use Red Leicester cheese (love that luminous colour) and buy uniformly-sliced white bread.
- 25g cheese, such as Cheddar or Red Leicester, grated
- 2 pieces sliced white bread
- 2 tbsp butter
- Melt the first tablespoon of butter in a large frying pan on a medium heat. Place the first piece of bread in the pan and the grated cheese on top.
- Put the second piece of bread on top and push down nice and hard.
- When the first piece of bread is golden underneath add the second tablespoon of butter to the pan.
- Flip the sandwich and cook until the bread is golden and the cheese is melted.
- Slice and serve
PS: The lovely Jamie Klingler advises using soft butter on the outside of the bread, adding two slices of ripe tomato, and sprinkling with garlic salt. She’s a real American, so she should know.