Published on: April 28, 2010The Boston Globe reports on a combination that marks both the return of a culinary favorite and the latest gastronomic rage: grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup.
“Once relegated to kitchen tables, school cafeterias, lunch counters, and diners, this satisfying combo is making a comeback in popular culture and high-end restaurants, and is poised to become the new mac and cheese,” the Globe writes. “Slices of processed cheese and ordinary white bread have been replaced by farmstead favorites and chewy or rich loaves. The top lunchtime seller at Woodward in the Ames Hotel consists of thick brioche, comté and Gruyere cheeses, tomato soup ... San Francisco residents Tiffany Lam and Alex Rando operate a weekly street cart they call Toasty Melts, which offers seven variations and notifies customers of their whereabouts via Twitter (the most popular is ABC — apple, bacon, and cheddar). Instead of soup, Lam makes tomato sauce, which patrons use for dipping. Ohio is home to both Tom + Chee (a booth in Cincinnati’s Fountain Square) and Melt Bar & Grilled in Cleveland, where a tattoo of the restaurant’s grilled cheese logo earns patrons a 25 percent discount for life. Portland, Ore., has the Grilled Cheese Grill, a food stand where patrons dine at picnic tables or in a school bus. In Los Angeles, you can find the Grilled Cheese Truck, where hot weather calls for tomato soup shooters instead of soup in mugs.”
The Globe notes that “All are playing to an audience primed to enjoy the duo. Americans consume an estimated 2 billion grilled cheese sandwiches every year, often with a serving of tomato soup. In its most iconic form, it is simply two slices of white bread, one slice of American cheese, a pat of butter, and a can of Campbell’s condensed tomato soup thinned with milk or water.”
And there’s even a social media component to this: “Today, Facebook lists more than six pages for grilled cheese and/or tomato soup, some with over 300,000 fans.”
- KC's View:
- Now, be honest. When you read the phrase “thick brioche, comté and Gruyere cheeses, tomato soup,” doesn’t it make you a little bit hungry? (The phrase “two slices of white bread, one slice of American cheese, a pat of butter, and a can of Campbell’s condensed tomato soup thinned with milk or water” doesn’t have quite the same effect, I’m afraid - it brings back good memories, but they are in my mind, not my stomach.)
The point is this. Supermarkets ought to be figuring out how to take advantage of this reborn classic. Don’t just leave it to the hotels and restaurants...but offer consumers a way to raise their game, while at the same time not catering to the lowest common denominator.