A simple American classic that I didn’t realize I could easily recreate in Thailand with a little forethought when in the bigger towns surrounding my little one.
Butter and bread I can get in my favorite little snack shop owned by another teacher from my school, both cost about a dollar. At site there isn’t much variety except for plain white bread from a brand called Farmhouse, but I’ll take what I can get. Cheese is obviously difficult to find at site, but luckily the two towns closest to me have slices of processed, shitty American cheese, but again, I’ve stopped being picky in Thailand. I try to buy a package or two every time we go into either of these towns so I have some backup and don’t feel bad about putting two slices in each sandwich.
Something note about the butter in Thailand (or at least the affordable for PCVs kind) is that it tastes a little, bizarre. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it is edible. It just changes the taste a bit, so there is an adjustment there when making something like grilled cheese when the butter is a big component. Another funny thing about Thai butter is there is a kind with sugar in it! And I don’t mean lightly dashed throughout, but large sugar granules and it has very different in taste to it, compared to the plain kind as well.
Evidenced by the blackened teeth on many children, Thais love things to be extra sweetened (most people won’t drink unsweetened milk and Thais usually give me a look when I ask for plain) and will put huge, heaping spoonfuls of sugar in nearly everything (I do mean everything, especially those dishes you think are so healthy get maybe three or four scoops of sugar). It’s actually a pretty serious problem as diabetes levels are soaring as diets move more towards sugary snacks and processed food.
But back to grilled cheese goodness. I don’t remember where the inspiration came from, but once I had my wok, I was ready to get grilling. It takes a difficult balance to get a ‘low’ heat setting on my on-off cooking device. And unfortunately, there are quite a few burned sandwiches and fingers. Because of this, the sandwiches don’t get too hard or stiff like Mom always did so perfectly. I’ve also started adding tomatoes occasionally for an added dimension and they can be so easily acquired at my market.
One day I hope to get brave enough to start adding meat to my cooking repertoire (still not brave enough for that) and step up to a croque monsieur instead of grilled cheese. For Thailand though, this is an amazing, doable treat from home.