How a Grilled Cheese Sandwich Outed Me as a Foreigner, and How to Make a Super Yummy American Grilled Cheese Sandwich

A few days ago my friend Amy invited us for a lunch play date.  She was making grilled cheese sandwiches from scratch.

Growing up in the Philippines our equivalent to a grilled cheese sandwich was  white bread with Cheez Whiz, a processed cheese spread. 

Suffice to say I was very impressed at Amy’s culinary knack at making a perfect grilled cheese sandwich.


I asked her to teach me how to make a proper one, and her response was, “Sometimes I forget you are a foreigner and then you do something or ask something not American and it hits me.”  We both ended up laughing.

I have lived in the US for about 23 years and I am an American citizen .  I pretty much blend in because I am married to a local and many assume my accent is from California. 

There are little idiosyncrasies that occur, like not knowing how to make a grilled cheese sandwich, my kids wearing our traditional Filipino barong shirt for special events, or my kids not eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, that “outs” me and makes me stick out.  Luckily, I enjoy being a little different and it is a trait that I am passing down to my kids.   Variety is the spice of life!

Massimo in a traditional Filipino barong Tagalog. (Photo from

I am proud of where I come from, the Philippines, yet I am happy of the easy assimilation I have had in the USA. 

On November 14, 2011 the Wall Street Journal had an article about immigrant assimilation.

I found the article quite interesting because it says that depending on which State you pick, integration levels vary.  I lived in New York City, Connecticut and California which have a high level of immigrants.

Currently I live in a county with major universities like Yale University and Quinnipiac University, to name a few.  University towns tend to attract many foreigners and Americans who have had the opportunity to be exposed to many cultures.

I guess that might be one of the main reasons why fitting in has been pretty easy.  Also, I am not really a conformist who tries to fit in so it has allowed me to be comfortable in my own skin. 

I believe that if you know who you are, and you like yourself, you can live anywhere in the world and be happy.

I hope you have a wonderful day!

Super Yummy Grilled Cheese Sandwich Recipe:



Cheese (You can use any cheese that melts easily like cheddar.  I also like using Gruyere cheese or mixing a variety of cheeses)

Bread (Any kind that is soft and sliced)

Butter (Spreadable kind.  You can also use a butter spray)

Mayonnaise (This is optional.  Some people put this inside the sandwich for added fattiness.)

To do:

1.  Get two pieces of bread.  Evenly butter both sides of each piece of bread. (Please note that in my picture my butter was still hard.  It is better to use spreadable softened butter.)


2.  Cut the cheese in very thin layers.  I put enough just to cover the bread.


3.  Optional: Add mayonnaise to the inside of the sandwich for added moisture and flavor.

4.  Close the sandwich and put it aside while you heat a pan at very low heat. 

5.  The key to a great grilled cheese sandwich is to let the sandwich slowly cook and brown on very low heat.  Once one side is browned (about 4 minutes) flip it and brown the other side.  Time may vary depending on your stove top so it is better to eyeball the bread for golden brownness.


Note: Grilled cheese sandwiches are not a dieter’s friend so just embrace this fact.  Adding more butter will make your sandwich even more delicious so don’t stop yourself!

Grilled cheese sandwiches are best when paired with tomato soup.  I did not have tomato soup, but I did have Italian semi-dried tomatoes.  merkato1These are tomatoes that are a cross between a sundried tomato and a canned tomato.  The flavor is rich and deep like a sundried tomato, but the texture is like a cooked tomato.  It sits in a bath of rich oil that is perfect for cooking or for dipping bread.


It is rare to find semi-dried tomatoes in the USA, but it is sometimes carried by Skappo Merkato at 51 Orange Street, New Haven, CT 06510.

Enjoy! Buon Appetito! Sarap ng buhay!


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