Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Everyone has those days when nothing seems to go right. For me, it starts in the morning when I wake up. I’m tired and sleepy, and even though I know I’m going to be late for school, I can’t seem to drag myself out of bed.

Today was one of those days. Sleeping at 2AM because of homework and procrastination is a practice I come by every now and then. It’s safe to say that I wasn’t all there during science class first period. Luckily, my class was watching a movie during second period English. I will admit that I occasionally take naps during in-class movies, but today, I had other things to do. I had a history test later and I hadn’t studied much the night before. As I flipped through my friend’s history textbook, the movie began to play. 

Suddenly, I caught a whiff of nail polish and turned to see the girl sitting behind me applying nail polish on her fingernails. I have asthma and the strong smell of the nail polish was interfering with my breathing. It felt like my throat was slowly closing up. Our school has a no-scent policy, so I found it quite irksome that she was using nail polish, but there was no point of arguing when the room was already saturated with the smell. I got up and quietly asked to leave the room.

This happens from time to time; people don’t usually put nail polish on at school, but every few weeks, someone sprays the hallway with a very liberal amount of Axe. Cue the gagging; Axe is almost as bad for my asthma as nail polish in an unventilated room is. The axe and the nail polish make me uncomfortable, but I just deal and leave the area.

What I hate is when people make light of not being able to breathe. They joked, “Next time I should just tell the teacher I can’t breathe and then I can skip the rest of the period.” It is rude and insensitive to make that kind of remark to someone who is in discomfort. They don’t understand what it’s like to not be able to breathe and I don’t expect them to until they experience it for themselves. However, to discredit my word as mere ploy to get out of class irritated me.

That wasn’t the end of my bad day. There are always the little things that accumulate over the day: a history test that I was unprepared for, the load of French homework that my teacher assigned, an incomplete science summative that is due soon. By the time the last bell rung, I was drained. I decided to skip working in the darkroom after school today as I had originally planned and just head home.

Unfortunately, I misplaced my house key and no one was home. And for some unknown reason, it is still zero degrees out even though it’s almost May. So I sat outside in the light rain, waiting for someone to come home and unlock the door. Just as I was about to give up waiting and go wait at my friend’s house, my younger brother Kyle came home.

As my cold hands warmed up and my fingers slowly uncurled, I sat on the barstool, contemplating the open fridge. There wasn’t much to eat, but I was starving. Kyle grabbed the loaf of bread from the fridge (which shouldn’t have been stored there as the fridge dries out the bread). My eyes fell on a block of bright orange cheddar cheese and I felt a flash of inspiration. Comfort food at its finest, a classic grilled ham and cheese sandwich can remedy anything, even my bad day.

Comfort food is called that for a reason: it really is soothing to bite into a perfectly crisp and cheesy grilled ham and cheese sandwich. It brings us back to the soft, hazy days of childhood when nothing and everything in the world mattered.

I made my grilled ham and cheese sandwich open-faced because I didn’t want to spoil my appetite for dinner. Of course, Kyle can eat two whole sandwiches and still be hungry an hour later.

There isn’t a recipe for a grilled cheese sandwich, only a guideline. You can use whichever cheese and whatever amount you like. I used sliced sharp cheddar cheese and black forest ham with whole wheat bread.
Preheat a pan (large enough to hold the sandwich) on medium heat. Butter one side of the bread. Flip it over and place a slice of cheese over top. Put a slice of ham on top of the cheese and another slice of cheese on top. Top with another slice of bread (buttered side up) and press down lightly to adhere. Or use only one slice of bread and leave it open-faced. 

Brown the sandwich for about 5 minutes on each side. Serve warm.

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