For a very brief period of my life, immediately after college, I was a cook (definitely not a chef) in a steak restaurant within a pub in Cambridge. I remember it as the Bath Hotel, though online evidence suggests it was the Bath House, a place with a fine history, and still in business, though no longer selling steaks as far as I can tell.
My job consisted chiefly of doing what I was told and trying to avoid being yelled at, but on Mondays, which were always very quiet, I ran the kitchen by myself.
One Monday lunchtime a customer asked for a cheese sandwich, which wasn’t on the menu, but I guess the customer was a regular. The restaurant manager told me to make it. I cut two thick doorsteps of bread, buttered them, cut slabs of cheddar cheese (the only type in the kitchen) and assembled the sandwich. It was a very generous, if admittedly not very elegant creation.
The restaurant manager took one look at what I’d done and was furious, took the sandwich from me. He discarded the bread and cut two new slices, as thin as any I’ve ever seen. He then extracted the cheese from the sandwich and managed to recut those pieces of cheddar to maybe a third of their original thickness,. He assembled the new sandwich and sprinkled the result with a flurry of watercress. He showed it to me in triumph. This was how a sandwich should be made, how it was supposed to look. I didn’t argue because I knew there was no point.
Of course I have no longer have an absolutely clear mental picture of my original creation but last week, at a place on LA’s Sawtelle Boulevard, called Flores and Sons, I was served a grilled cheese sandwich “cheddar, gruyere, onion, honey mustard,” and I believe was even thicker. It could have used a little less bread.