The Cheese Toastie

The cheese toastie…grilled cheese sandwich to the northern hemisphericals… is the basic matter with which happiness in the universe is formed.

I came to this conclusion in the 6th grade when I was set upon by bullies at a football game and had my popcorn and big orange drink dashed to the ground. It was apparently enough of a trauma to require a cheese toastie for treatment, though I am happy to say that the incident cured me of any interest in any sports at any time thereafter. I’m ashamed to say that I neglected at the time to thank the juvenile delinquents for this door to freedom.

But back to the toastie. It is the one constant in the kitchens of Australia’s roadhouses that will cheer the weary traveller. The pies may be horrid and the steak sandwich inedible gristle, but no-one spoils a cheese toastie.

In private hands, though, it can be taken close to ruin when the cook gets ambitious. Inclusions other than cheese are the temptation and few things will succeed. Very thinly sliced tomato works but only if the thing is not heated to incandescence in the toasting. You cannot be happy with a burnt palate. Likewise you can enjoy a light smear of gherkin relish or chutney, but go further in the spice rack at your peril. Mustard? No. Salami? Overpowering and likely to fall apart on you. Sardines or Spam? Are you mad?

Likewise resist all vegetarian options in a cheese toastie. If you want to eat kale or cabbage or grass, do so, but outside and not near the cheese.

Do consider whether or not the toastie may need salt and pepper. Some cheeses have so little actual taste as to beg for a boost. Some are too strong and hurt the throat. You can generally do well with a mild cheddar or red When in doubt, go for a local, cheap cheese.

And select a standard loaf of bread. This is a toastie, not a contest to see who can have the most pretentious loaf in the bakery. Leave the things that look like seeded concrete strictly alone.

Procedure is simple.: Butter two slices of bread and insert a slice of cheese into the unbuttered centre. Heat a dry cast iron frying pan to ” 7 ” and mash the sandwich down in the pan with a spatula. Flip and mash until it is flattened and golden brown toast. Slice it diagonally and then defend it from predators.

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