There are two possible origin stories for our beloved grilled cheese sandwich according to Laura Werlin. One is that it was a British open-faced sandwich of bread and cheese briefly toasted under the broiler, which the Brits call a "grill." The other story gives credit to the Kraft Cheese Company, which popularized the stove-top version with their perfectly shaped and perfectly melty single-slice American cheese.
Werlin also points out the almost every culture that has dairy as part of their diet also has some version of a grilled cheese sandwich. The Mexicans have quesadillas, the French have the croque monsieur, and the Italians have paninis. Even the Welsh have rarebit, which Werlin describes as "grilled cheese meets fondue"!
So is there a definitive All-American Grilled Cheese Sandwich? Werlin gives nostalgia points to the Kraft Cheese and Wonderbread version that featured heavily in many of our childhood meals, but beyond that, it's all about what you love. These days, Werlin prefers grilled cheeses made with American artisan cheese and high quality bread to match.
What kind of grilled cheese do you go for: old-fashioned or fancied-up?
• Listen to the entire interview and hear the rest of this episode of Good Food on the Good Food website!