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The Journal Gazette

  • The Big Texas Grilled Cheese platter at Liberty Diner on Goshen Avenue.

Sunday, September 09, 2018 1:00 am

Cheese toastie-vs.-grilled cheese debate rages

RYAN DUVALL | The Journal Gazette

So now that the dust has settled over my ranting column from Aug. 12, it is time to share some of the feedback I received.

It was four little words I stuck in the middle of a sentence that drew the most ire – “not a cheese toastie.”

The debate over grilled cheese vs. toastie will never end. I think the person who best emphasized my point was reader Fred Miguel Jr. of Fort Wayne.

“Dear Ryan, I'm a fan of your column and enjoy your description of the different menus and tastes of the varied local restaurants.

“However, I will debate you on the 'Cheese Toastie' subject though.

“Being raised in the early 50s, going to a Catholic school and from a family of six, we regularly made cheese toasties. For a quick lunch to prepare, especially on Fridays, we would put two pieces of bread in the toaster and take two pieces of Velveeta cheese and quickly put them between the toast to make a cheese toastie!

“Back in the day, it was especially a staple for lunch in a Catholic school because of meatless Fridays. Nothing else on the toastie unless we'd use mustard and/or sliced pickles. Through the years though, I've noticed how the terms used for grilled cheese and the original cheese toastie might have morphed to mean the same type of sandwich.”

This was the problem I had from the start. I do not deny that cheese toasties exist, they are just not the same as a grilled cheese. This debate carries far beyond northeast Indiana and the views differ across the board.

Toasties are British in origin and were usually made in ovens. They were the same as a grilled cheese but the bread was not buttered. Some Brits would make them in a pan in the oven, too, which is even closer to the stove-top grilled cheese.

There is also a claim that grilled cheese sandwiches are buttered on the outside whereas toasties are buttered on the inside. Other sources say toasties were also sometimes made in pie irons or toasters.

So maybe there seems to be a difference but the debate remains muddled.

And the passion in which everyone has for their preference is strong.

Take a look at how Gary Huguenard of Fremont replied:

“My grandmother and mother called them cheese toasties. It's just a term. The bread is fried, it becomes crispy (like toast) and so cheese toasty!

“My wife and I prefer baking our grilled cheese/cheese toasty – even crispier with less butter.

P.S. CHEESE TOASTY,CHEESE TOASTY, CHEESE TOASTY, ETC., ETC. ... ”

Top responder

Pat Stahlhut of Fort Wayne had some great takes on several of my rants.

On grilled cheese: “Your take on grilled cheese made me laugh by bringing back childhood memories. My grandmother was an Irish immigrant and had never heard of grilled cheese. When we asked for grilled cheese sandwiches, she put a bit of butter in the pan and fried the cheese until it was runny. Then she poured the melted cheese over plain toast. It was basically the poor man's version of Welsh Rarebit.”

On my dismissal of grilled chicken: “Sometimes a grilled chicken breast with just a little mayo is heavenly. There's no sensory overload with massed spices or grease. ... It's comfort food at its most basic level.”

And on me being over Brussels sprouts:“They are not, 'once-despised,' they are always despised!”

Best of rest

Saying it was all right to put ketchup on a hot dog was way less controversial than the cheese toastie debate. I only had a couple of people who disagreed.

As Krista Schwartz Hall (@K_A_Schwartz) of Fort Wayne said on Twitter:

“Amen about ketchup in a hot dog. This is America, if I want to put a condiment I like on my food, I should be able to do so without judgement.”

Zac Dudek (@zacdudek), a follower all the way from Houston, didn't have a hot dog stance, but another tasty hand-held treat drew his ire:

“I agree with all of these so much! Can we also agree that not double wrapping a corn tortilla on a street taco is the worst possible thing ever?”

Not sure if it is the worst thing ever, but I always give places that double-wrap credit for doing so and it is a sign of a place that knows how to make tacos right.

This may be the worst thing ever, sent by Sue Baumgartner of Fort Wayne:

“It turns my stomach if I pick up the salt and pepper shaker and they are not clean! At one of our better restaurants in Fort Wayne I had a salt shaker that was so greasy it literally slid through my fingers!”

That was a little detail that often can be overlooked, even by me.

I actually got a little queasy after reading this email thinking about how many dirty hands touch the shakers in a given day.

I am no germophobe, but Sue has me rethinking whether I will ever grab a shaker again.

Thanks to everyone who responded – even if you didn't agree. I cherish all of the feedback I get for every column and look forward to every email, tweet and letter I receive.

Ryan DuVall is a restaurant critic for The Journal Gazette. Email him at rduvall@jg.net; call at 461-8130. DuVall's past reviews can be found at www.journalgazette.net. You can follow him on Twitter @DiningOutDuVall.