Puffy Bread and Plastic Cheese: Grilled Cheese Like Mom Only Made Under Duress

On Sunday, I wanted a grilled cheese sandwich. This really shouldn’t shock anybody. I’ve been sick for almost a month now. Being sick sucks. Being sick alone sucks even harder. It means you have to take care of yourself. This isn’t usually a problem for me, but after over three weeks, the routine’s getting a little old. When I’m sick, I get lots of food cravings, if I’ve got any appetite at all.

I’ve been giving in to the cravings, mostly because the dubiously effective medicine the ear, nose, and throat specialist keeps prescribing has to be taken with meals, so not eating means not taking medicine, and I’m clutching onto anything that presents a chance of getting me better. Seriously, at this point if somebody told me the way to get better was to do a headstand naked on the roof of my building while reciting the alphabet backwards, I’d probably give it a go.

Yes, I’m aware that I’m being a bit of a baby.

The chocolate cravings were bad enough. I try to eat sort of kind of healthfully, especially when the only 40-pound weights I’m lifting are crying five-year-olds. For the most part, Korea has been pretty good for this. The school feeds me every day, and while it may not be the most delightful cuisine I’ve ever tasted, there’s always something resembling a vegetable (even if it is fermented) and I don’t have to cook it. When my energy and time are both on the short side, that kind of thing is tremendously helpful.

On Sunday, though, I was on my own. No school means a lie in, staying in my jammies till midafternoon, and having to feed myself. I remembered that last point sometime after my shower at approximately 3 pm. So at least I was out of my jammies and in big-girl clothes by then. All of a sudden, it hit me. I really, really wanted a grilled cheese sandwich.

Cheese isn’t something that Korea’s completely on the bandwagon with yet. It can be found in just about every grocery store, but selection is limited and it’s on the expensive side. If Velveeta or plastic cheese slices like Kraft Singles happen to be your poison, though, you’re covered.

Fortunately for me, when I have a grilled cheese craving, I’m looking for puffy white bread and plastic cheese.

I’ve been called a food snob before, and certainly I’ll never say no to a fresh mozzarella and basil panino. However, on Sunday, as I usually am when I have a food craving, I was looking for something comforting and familiar. Plastic cheese on puffy white bread is the kind of sandwich I only got at home as a special treat growing up, largely because my mom was actually, y’know conscious of and concerned about what I ate as a kid.

How the mud pies got past her watchful eye, I’m not sure I want to know.

From time to time, as I’m sure everyone confronted with three whining children will at one point or another, she broke down and made us sandwiches on the type of bread that will be keeping the cockroaches company after the apocalypse. With plastic cheese slices.

So on Sunday, after the rain stopped (why oh why does it always rain on the weekends here?) I ventured out in search of sustenance. Or rather, craving satisfaction, but when I’m sick there really isn’t all that much difference. I’ve never in my life seen more different types of plastic cheese. However, assuming that they probably all taste pretty much the same, I picked up the cheapest one.

I also managed to score ketchup that isn’t entirely sugar. All in all, the craving is satisfied, and loaves of bread being what they are, looks like I’ll be eating a lot of sandwiches this week.


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