We all have guilty-pleasure foods, ones we sometimes don't like to reveal to others, but secretly enjoy. American cheese should be one of mine, but to be honest, I've shed the guilt for liking it and am here to proclaim: All hail American cheese!
I like cheese of any kind, and there's rarely a dish that can't be made better with the addition of cheese in my book, but I didn't grow up eating very much cheese since my Chinese parents didn't like it. The one cheese we always had in our refrigerator, though? Individually wrapped slices of American cheese.
I think my mom bought American cheese because it has a lot of calcium, lasted forever in our fridge, and we could slap a slice on a piece of bread and slide it into the toaster oven without making a mess. We even had a special plastic box (I think it was a giveaway from Kraft) that neatly housed all of our American cheese.
As I grew older, I discovered the joys of Parmesan, mozzarella, and even brie and blue cheese in college. The pinnacle of my cheese explorations happened, not surprisingly, while studying abroad in France, where cheese was abundant and cheap.
But I've never forgotten American cheese. Yes, it's not really even officially a cheese. Yes, it's processed. Yes, I should probably have more sophisticated tastes. But you know what? I'm not ashamed. I think there's a place for American cheese in a comforting white-bread grilled cheese or melted on a burger, and those foods just wouldn't taste the same without a slice of melty, creamy American cheese.