Is there anything more comforting than a good grilled cheese sandwich? Definitely not, in my humble opinion. As a kid growing up in the U.S., nothing could beat the melty goodness of Kraft American cheese nestled between two pan fried slices of white bread slathered with butter. My love of a good grilled cheese made me wonder if other countries have their own versions of this tasty sandwich. Oh boy, do they ever! Join me while I look for the best grilled cheese sandwiches around the world.
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches are International Fare
In England, the cheese toastie is king. While its American cousin is slathered with butter on the outside, the toastie has butter spread on the insides of the bread and filled with cheddar cheese before being grilled. The next time you're in London, get your cheese toastie fix at the Melt Room.
The Welsh Rarebit (said like the animal’s name rabbit) cuts down on the carbohydrates by using only one piece of bread. A cheese sauce is spread over this lonesome slice of bread, enveloping it in a comforting broiled hug. The cheese sauce is usually made with beer and mustard for a gentle kick. While the origins of Welsh Rarebit are unclear, one English joke goes that the Welsh were so poor that they pretended cheese was meat (rabbit). I recommend the Welsh Rarebit at Wrights Food Emporium in Carmarthen, Wales.
The French make a fancy grilled cheese variation called the croque monsieur, a ham and Gruyere cheese sandwich topped with even more cheese and often béchamel sauce. The sandwich is broiled so that the crust is firm but the inside is all gooey deliciousness. The Croque Monsieur’s even more elaborate lady friend, the Croque Madame, comes with a fried on egg on top. Although no one knows the exact origins of this sandwich, the Croque Monsieur started appearing in Parisian restaurants in the early 20th century. Get your fill of these sandwiches at La Maison du Croque Monsier in Paris.
The grilled panini sandwich has been popular in Italy since the 16th century. This sandwich consists of two pieces of bread with cheese and meat or vegetables. The closest to the standard American grilled cheese sandwich is the popular caprese panini, a delightful combination of mozzarella, tomato and basil. According to TripAdvisor, you can't go wrong with a visit to Pane & Vino for paninis of all sorts in Rome.
The cheese quesadilla is Mexico's version of a grilled cheese sandwich, with a folded flour tortilla taking the place of bread. In addition to cheese, many people choose to add other fillings to their quesadilla like chicken, peppers and beans. Quesadillas Maria Isabel gets high marks for their plethora of quesadillas in Mexico City.
An arepa de queso is a split, grilled arepa filled with shredded cheese. Arepa, a type of corn bread, has long been a staple of indigenous tribes in Venezuela. For an authentic tasting of Venezuelan comfort food, head to Arepas de Los Armanos in Porlamar, Venezuela.
The Australians prefer their grilled cheese with a layer of vegemite. This variation is not surprising considering how much Aussies love their vegemite, a viscous dark brown spread made from yeast extract. It’s got a pungent taste that people either love or hate. Willing to give it a go? Pop into Two Tall Chefs @ The Cheese Shop in Melbourne.
It's obvious that grilled cheese transcends continents and cultures. Although preparations vary, the blend of melted cheese with a carb-y coating brings comfort across nations.
Do you love grilled cheese as much as I do? Expand your grilled cheese horizons with Grilled Cheese Kitchen: Bread + Cheese + Everything in Between. Or, if you like might like your grilled cheese paired with a tasty beer, (and who wouldn't?!), get yourself a copy of Grilled Cheese & Beer: Recipes for the Finer Things in Life.
What's the best grilled cheese sandwich you've ever eaten? Let us know in the comments below!
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