Eating: Happiness is a cheesy, toasty thing

SUNDAY food is different to other-day-of-the-week-food. After the public relations dinner at Nobu on Monday night, the caviar canapes at that little shindig in the warehouse on Wednesday, and the rollicking Australian chardonnay and Vietnamese spring rolls at the dinner party on Friday, you really don't want to face anything remotely called timbale or nage.

Yet you're hungry. Really hungry. Hungry for more than food. You need something warm, something real, something delicious, something familiar, and most importantly, something fast. You need a cheesy toasty thing. Just like stewy glumpy things and soupy sloshy things, cheesy toasty things have been handed down by a superior being to help us make sense of the world.

There's something about that gloopy, molten cheese, and the crisp, crunchy toast that can reach down and touch - not your soul, I hate food writers who talk up food as reaching your soul - but your socks.

Cheesy toasty things glide across borders and language barriers with the effortless ease of a shiny new Euro. Even the French manage to take time off from whipping up soaring souffles, slipping truffles under the skins of roast chickens and making rich creamy sauces to wander off to a local cafe, order a vin de pays and munch meaningfully on a croque- monsieur.

While describing it as merely a toasted sandwich topped with grilled cheese and occasionally coated with a thick bechamel sauce may be physically accurate, it misses the metaphysical point. To truly appreciate the grace and meaning of a croque-monsieur (the name means gentleman's crunch), one must use only the finest French pain de mie and Gruyere cheese. The only possible additive is a fried egg, which transforms it, ridiculously, into a croque-madame.

The most elegant croque-monsieur is to be found not in Paris but in Venice, in Harry's Bar. Here they do a glorious finger sandwich version, flavoured with Dijon mustard and cayenne pepper, pan-fried in olive oil and served in a snappy white paper nappy.

Not that the Italians aren't capable of inventing their very own cheesy toasty things. From Naples comes the glorious mozzarella in carozza (literally, mozzarella in a carriage), a Neapolitan sandwich of fresh buffalo mozzarella dipped into milk, coated with flour and egg and deep fried.

Closer to home, completing the triumvirate of great cheesy toasty things, is the mighty Welsh rarebit, which originally started life as Welsh rabbit. According to Jane Grigson, the Welsh considered a cheesy toasty thing as great a treat as a fine, fat rabbit.

It is, of course, but I think it more likely that the name came from the famous Welsh sense of humour, as in sitting down to yet another tea of cheese-on-toast and crying, "Oooh, Ma, what a fine, fat rabbit you've done for dinner tonight."

For a genuine Welsh rarebit, a slice of toasted bread is topped with a creamy mixture of Cheshire or double Gloucester cheese, egg yolk, mustard, and beer or milk. The whole lot is then placed under a grill and served as hot as you can stand.

My own particular favourite cheesy toasty thing, however, is the pan- fried cheese and ham sandwich, one of the true miracles of modern times.

To achieve this culinary paragon, simply spread a slice of bread with butter and place it butter side down in a medium-hot pan. Top it with a thin slice of Emmenthal or Tilsit cheese, a thin slice of ham and another slice of cheese, all cut to fit the bread per- fectly. Spread another slice of bread and place this on the top, butter- side up.

Cook gently until the bottom is golden and crisp, then turn the whole thing over and cook the other side. When it's done, the cheese will have melted and glued the lot together into a crunchy, oozing whole.

It's enough to make you face Monday with less of your normal ambivalence. After all, there are only six more sleeps until it's Sunday again.

Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face

books
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from How To Train Your Dragon 2

Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigour

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland and Jena Malone in Mockinjay: Part 1

film
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips

music
Arts and Entertainment
Gay icons: Sesame Street's Bert (right) and Ernie

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Robin Thicke and actress Paula Patton

music
Arts and Entertainment
The new film will be shot in the same studios as the Harry Potter films

books
Arts and Entertainment
Duncan Bannatyne left school at 15 and was still penniless at 29

Bannatyne leaves Dragon's Den

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The French economist Thomas Piketty wrote that global inequality has worsened

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck plays a despondent Nick Dunne in David Fincher's 'Gone Girl'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty (L) and Carl Barât look at the scene as people begin to be crushed

music
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Caral Barat of The Libertines performs on stage at British Summer Time Festival at Hyde Park

music
Arts and Entertainment
Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea perform on stage at the Billboard Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Zina Saro-Wiwa

art
Arts and Entertainment
All-new couples 'Come Dine With Me'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Black Sabbath's Ozzy Osbourne
musicReview: BST Hyde Park, London
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Gamble and Amy Hoggart star in Almost Royal burning bright productions
tvTV comedy following British ‘aristos’ is accused of mocking the trusting nature of Americans
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice