Shower Thoughts: The three cheese classic

Dan Kubota’s column ‘Shower Thoughts’ explores those thoughts that you have when you zone out in the shower and let the warm water just run over you.

Soft brioche, lightly toasted. Soft but not soggy, crunchy but not hard. Never plasticky cheddar cheese, melted but not completely liquidy. A dusting of green spices to tie it all together, the metaphorical cherry on top. Sandwiching melty cheese between warm bread. My favorite sandwich for years (eight? ten?), The Melt’s Three Cheese classic has stood the test of time. It’s my comfort food, my fast food of choice. I love it so much I wrote about it in my application to Stanford. (I even included a few sentences in my roommate letter that I tragically had to cut due to word count constraints. My roomie and I have yet to go, but I’ve taken my next door neighbor for a late-night Melt run — a first for both of us!) It’s remained one of my favorite foods to this day, despite how much I have changed since I first had one. 

On many occasions, I’ve pondered why that’s the case. I’m a fan of things that have a strong, unusual taste — spoonfuls of feta and goat cheese (separately, not together… although I’m not entirely opposed to trying it), durian (frozen and fresh — don’t hate it until you’ve tried it, the durian is so sweet and refreshing especially when frozen, almost like a better version of a sorbet!), the pickled ginger that comes with sushi… I like my food to have a kick, a little something special. Usually, my favorite special food at the time will change in and out depending on what’s offered seasonally or whatever I have the chance to try. It’s not exactly like that with grilled cheese, though. That’s been a constant among my favorite things.

Grilled cheese… has a safe flavor. It’s not exactly full of surprises; unlike a fruit, which can be soft and sweet one time and firm and bitter the next, grilled cheese tends to be melty and slightly crunchy each time. It’s got consistency. Even if it’s a little more overtoasted one moment and a little less crispy the next, for the most part there is a pretty small range of differences between any two given sandwiches. Nevertheless, despite its perceived “boringness,” it has cemented its place in my heart as a favorite.

Something I’ve mulled over lately is that not everything has to be “exciting,” “revolutionary,” “or life-changing”; some things can just be neutral, and that’s perfectly OK. There is beauty in simplicity, in the absence of complexity. There is beauty in the familiar, in the same.

In a world in which we are constantly trying to chase the new and exciting, seeking out as much sensory overload as possible, sometimes it takes simplifying the goal. It can mean going back to our roots, to long-forgotten childhood favorites, to things that are comfortable and safe. Sometimes, it takes remembering the simple things that are our foundation, that provides us with the stability to even reach out and dare to chase the new and exciting.