I was predisposed to hate the Grilled Cheese Truck from its inception.
To be fair, I am predisposed against most of the trucks on LA’s mobile dining circuit because (in most cases) I don’t believe the quality of food makes up for the precarious nature of eating or acquiring it, but, even so, the Grilled Cheese Truck seemed particularly irksome to me.
While I have been known to indulge in Campanile’s Grilled Cheese Night, in general I find it appalling when people order the simple sandwich out at a restaurant.
Grilled cheese is a last resort dinner when the fridge is bare (everybody has bread, butter and cheese), and it’s one of the first things that young kids learn to make when their parents deem them capable of operating a stove. I even featured the humble fried sandwich on the menu of “Diana’s Cafe” when I was a precocious tike with culinary ambitions. (Other menu items included “Terrific Tuna” and “Perfect Pancakes” made with Bisquick.)
I thought it was completely absurd that people were willing to wait in hour-long lines to pay for a grilled cheese sandwich, and I half considered opening up my own operation from my apartment just to prove a point.
Until I realized that I would never be able to get the buttery smell out of my linens, and I don’t like touching other people’s dirty money.
So, when I heard that the Grilled Cheese Truck would be handing out samples at the EAT: LA 2010 Book Signing event that I was planning to attend with Cathy of Gastronomy Blog at Vroman's in Pasadena, I wasn’t excited. In fact, I think my exact words were, “I think I'll save my appetite.”
And I fully intended to do just that.
I didn’t count on it taking me ninety minutes to get from Santa Monica to Pasadena. I didn’t count on going to the wrong Vroman’s bookstore and then having to backtrack to get to the actual location of the book signing. And I didn’t count on staying at the bookstore until almost 9:00 pm because (some) archaic Pasadenians don’t know how to figure out where food trucks will be at any given time. (Apparently they’ve never heard of Twitter.)
Driven by extreme hunger and frustration at the world and everyone in it, I greedily snatched up a sample of the truck’s famed cheesy mac and rib sandwich that comes with macaroni and cheese, sharp cheddar, BBQ pork, and caramelized onions ($7.50).
At first glance, the sandwich is everything that I hate wrapped into one decidedly un-neat package.
It’s completely, gratuitously over-the-top.
But, in that moment, it was also completely, gratuitously delightful.
While I’m not sure that I would ever wait in an hour-long line for the indulgent sandwich, the combination of the tender smoky meat, sweet onions, buttery white bread, and traditional blue box-style mac and cheese, was exactly what I needed last night -- comfort delivered directly into my hands. And, moments later, into my very grateful, no-longer griping mouth.
The Grilled Cheese Truck