An associate of mine has very strong opinions about cheese on sandwiches, which is to say that he doesn’t approve. It is a virtual categorical prohibition with him, not due to lactose intolerance or any other allergy but simply because he sees it as unnecessary. It is a dominating ingredient, drowning out more subtle notes and far too often the cheeses used in the sandwich world are fairly common in flavor. I sympathized with him but had long held that cheese, like any other bold ingredient, had its place. Cheese, I thought, simply needed a skilled hand.
This sandwich caused me to revisit everything I thought I knew about cheese. A grilled chicken breast and sauteed mushrooms drowned in American cheese between two pieces of toasted white bread. “Well there’s your problem,” I can hear you saying, “try something a little less pedestrian next time and you’ll find yourself doing all right.” I will give you that point but I have to wonder about the larger issues, especially as found in restaurants. Sure, while at home you can carefully incorporate just the right amount of fine goat cheese but what about when out in the world? There are ingredients in sandwiches that one should stay away from in most shops, such as fried foods, but cheese can hardly be avoided. It is ever present in restaurant sandwiches from the lowest franchise ‘eatery’ to the most rarefied sandwich shops and I fear the day where America’s love for plenty overwhelms its good sense.