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Enjoy a slice of life

From my frying pan to yours, happy National Grilled Cheese Month

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Every once in a while, we professional media persons are sent news releases containing information so profound, so earth-shattering, it threatens to change the way we look at the world around us.

Then there are days like today, when we received a news release announcing April is -- get ready to award us several Pulitzer Prizes -- National Grilled Cheese Month!

You probably think we are kidding about this month but, tragically, we are not. On first blush, we assumed this news release was sent to us by Big Cheese in a sincere and humanitarian effort to get free publicity for dairy-related products.

But after digging deeper via the technique of reading our email, we discovered it was sent by the American Roland Food Corp. in a sincere and humanitarian effort to get free publicity for its wonderful assortment of condiments -- spicy sriracha chili sauce and sun-dried tomatoes being just two examples -- which the company assures us will transform a standard grilled cheese sandwich into an ethereal gastronomic experience.

And, frankly, we are OK with that. Ever since we were just a little column, we have been involved in a sordid love affair with grilled cheese sandwiches. To us, this is no mere lunchtime treat. No, accuse us of over-exaggerating if you must, but what we are talking about here is nothing less than the King of All Sandwiches.

Search your memories -- and your hearts -- and you will see we are right. The classic grilled cheese is the essence of comfort and hope and joy served up between two slices of generously buttered, lightly browned bread, the ultimate combination of crispy and gooey in one carb-heavy, soul-satisfying, heart-stopping sandwich.

After spending several arduous minutes conducting research on the Internet, it has become obvious we are not the only ones for whom the grilled cheese sandwich -- perhaps with a steaming bowl of fresh tomato soup -- borders on a religious obsession.

For example, if you Google the words "grilled cheese," you get approximately 13 million results; whereas if you search for the words "corned beef" you get a mere 3,120,000 results, while the phrase "ham on rye" nets a paltry 974,000 hits. I rest my cheesy case.

The web is home to a stunning array of exotic recipes featuring gourmet breads and artisan cheeses. One place in Cincinnati serves grilled cheese wherein a glazed doughnut replaces the bread, and a "grilled cheese social blogger" devoutly flogs one with brie and figs served between grilled slabs of pound cake.

But we personally eschew these frivolous pretenders, assuming eschew means what we think it does. Being a column of humble origins, we prefer a simple grilled cheese, consisting of two slices of non-fancy bread wrapped around a slice of gloriously non-nutritious, not-found-in-nature processed domestic cheese.

In honour of National Grilled Cheese Month, here are a few vital facts you will assume we made up but did not:

-- In further evidence the end is near, a grilled cheese sandwich made by work-from-home jewelry designer Diana Duyser and sporting the image of the Virgin Mary was sold on eBay to Internet casino Golden.Palace.com for $28,000 in 2004;

-- The world record for eating the most grilled cheese sandwiches in one minute currently sits at 13. It was set earlier this month by legendary Japanese competitive eater Takeru Kobayashi at South By Southwest Interactive, a technology festival in Austin, Texas.

We personally watched an online video of Kobayashi accomplishing this freakish feat by folding each sandwich in half, dunking it in water, then shoving it in his mouth in a single disgusting piece while his crazed fans chanted "Kobi! Kobi!" It was a deeply moving experience and one we hope to never witness again while sober.

-- The Guinness World Record for the world's largest grilled cheese sandwich weighs in at 145 kilograms. It was grilled up in November 2000 by the hungry folks at Vermont-based Cabot Creamery Co-operative, which also happens to be the exclusive cheese sponsor of the 2012 Grilled Cheese Invitational sandwich battle, which is scheduled for April 28 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. Ladies and gentlemen, start your George Foreman grills.

The real point I'm trying to make is that, from the very bottom of my frying pan, starting on Sunday, I'd like to wish everyone, regardless of gender, race or religion, a happy National Grilled Cheese Month.

Unless you're lactose intolerant.

doug.speirs@ freepress.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 28, 2012 A2

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