Down and Out in Paris and London
A Streetcar Named Desire
Tropic of Cancer
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories
I find inspiration in my cooking from all forms of creative expression. Painting and visual art influence the color and presentation of a great dish; music influences the rhythm at which one works in the kitchen. But a great dish tells a story. A great dish has a vantage point. A great dish has perspective. And all of these ingredients to a great dish can be inspired by a great book. The following novels each have a sandwich incarnation to them—grilled cheese as literature. How about that?
By George Orwell
Pair with: Frenchie
The first portion of this book is an amazing account of what it was like to toil in the great kitchens of France during the Great Depression. The Frenchie is the perfect grilled cheese to pair with this book, as the stink of the blue cheese, the saltiness of the ham, and the crunch of the baguette all speak to street life in this—or any—Parisian period.
By Tennessee Williams
Pair with: Muffuletta
Plays are books too, right? And nothing personifies the timelessness of New Orleans for me like this brilliant piece. It’s often regarded as the greatest play of the 20th century and deserves to be paired with one of the greatest sandwiches of the same era. The Muffuletta grilled cheese is an homage to New Orleans’ greatest sandwich. Both the play and this dish are a testament to the majesty of the Big Easy.
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By Jack Kerouac
Pair with: Monterey
“Something good will come out of all things yet—and it will be golden and eternal.” Kerouac must have been talking about grilled cheese, no? This book embodies a free spirit to me, and what better pairing than the Monterey Melt. Not only does this sandwich get its inspiration from the same beautiful part of the country as the book does, but the cucumber and grapes are another perfect example of the outside-of-the-box thinking of this great American visionary.
By Henry Miller
Pair with: Montmartre
No book captures the essence of the Parisian bohemian lifestyle as this once-banned, ribald account of the 1920s and 1930s. And no area of Paris speaks to this lifestyle quite like Montmartre. The sandwich named for this quarter is the perfect pairing to this book. It’s salty, sweet, acidic—much like the words of this story. “One can live in Paris…on just grief and anguish—a bitter nourishment.” (But it helps to have a great grilled cheese.)
By Washington Irving
Pair with: Ichabod Crane
Nothing screams autumn like this book, as its tale has been told over countless Halloweens. The imagery of a chase through an upstate New York countryside coupled with the picture of a shattered pumpkin sitting next to the hat of a lost Ichabod Crane has inspired many a nightmare for generations. Eat it with the grilled cheese named after the lead, Ichabod Crane, in which the nuttiness of a cream camembert matches perfectly with a pumpkin chutney and pumpkin seeds.
Featured Image: George Dolgikh/Shutterstock; All Other Images: Colin Price