Most people think of grilled cheese as strictly American, but people from different cultures around the world enjoy it in many forms.
There’s nothing more American than gooey, American or Cheddar cheese melted between two slices of buttery bread that is grilled to perfection. However, it turns out that this American staple is actually enjoyed around the world. The combination of melted cheese and bread is eaten all across the globe, and it has been for many years, and although at The Big Cheezy, our gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches are predominantly American-style, we thought it would be fun to explore how people in other countries eat their grilled cheese sandwiches:
In Australia, they seem to put Vegemite on practically everything, and grilled cheese sandwiches are no exception. For those of you who haven’t had the experience of tasting Vegemite, it’s a thick, black spread that is made with various vegetables, leftover brewer’s yeast and spices. Vegemite has a very unique flavor, but if there’s one thing to be said for it: it compliments cheese extraordinarily well.
In the UK, a grilled cheese sandwich is called a Welsh Rabbit, and it consists of toasted bread with a savory cheese sauce poured over it and then broiled. Traditionally, cheddar cheese and ale are used to make the cheese sauce. Legend has it that the Welsh were not allowed to eat rabbit at restaurants or taverns, so they ended up substituting melted cheese instead, hence the name!
The equivalent to a grilled cheese sandwich in Venezuela is called Arepa de Queso, and it starts with a stuffed corn cake that is made out of yucca or masa flour. The corn cake is traditionally cooked on a cast iron skillet, stuffed with shredded mozzarella or farmer’s cheese, and then cooked again. These sandwiches were favored among the indigenous people throughout Venezuela and Colombia long before European colonization, and they are still a local favorite today.
A grilled cheese sandwich in France is called Croque Monsieur, and it is basically a ham sandwich with Gruyere cheese melted on the inside and on top. It is also covered in a bechamel sauce and broiled and then topped with a fried egg. The story behind the Croque Monsieur is that workers left their Gruyere cheese and ham sandwiches on hot radiators, only to discover that the cheese had melted. The Croque Monsieur has been a staple of Parisian menus since the early 1900s.
In Italy, a grilled cheese sandwich is known as a panini, and it consists of Italian bread (such as michetta or ciabatta), cheese (usually provolone or mozzarella), veggies and meat — all perfectly grilled. Paninis have been an Italian favorite since the 16th century!
As you can see, people from all over the world enjoy their own versions of grilled cheese sandwiches just as much as we do here in the United States. Whenever you’re craving the tried and true taste of melted cheese sandwiched between slices of grilled bread, there’s no better place to turn than The Big Cheezy. You may not find Welsh Rabbit or Croque Monsieur on our menu, but you will find a long list of creative, gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches that will change the way you think of this long-standing comfort food.