Rep Note:
Needs Work!
13 June 2019

¶ When  I was a boy, my mother used to make open-faced sandwiches that she called “cheese dreams.”

As always with my mother’s gift for nomenclature, I’m tempted to leave it right there and take the rest of the day off. What can you say, after “cheese dreams”?

I can’t remember how these sandwiches were assembled, but the ingredients were sliced tomato, bacon, and cheese. In the broiler, the bacon never really cooked and the cheese always burned. There was still enough bacon taste, though, to make the things much more interesting that peanut-butter-and-jelly. If my mother had made them more often, perhaps she would have learned to make better ones — but probably not, given that, when cooking, my mother’s eyes were always on the exits.

Consider the alternatives. My father once got up early on a Saturday morning and decided to fry some bacon. Then he fell asleep in front of the TV, and the smoke woke the rest of us up. As for me, it was a truth of which my mother was certain that learning how to cook would turn me into a pansy. And as for my sister, she somehow managed not to be an alternative at all. So we were grateful for whatever Mother served, on the tacit understanding that she did very well for someone who was not a cook. Not.

Not that I have anything to crow about. My own attempt to recreate cheese dreams, after years of thinking how, possibly, to do it right — I kid you not — just met with odd but unmistakable failure.

First, I toasted a split mini-baguette. Then I spooned a hash of chopped cherry tomatoes, spring onion, and tarragon onto each half. This I topped with three thin slices of just-cooked Schaller & Weber breakfast bacon.

It’s what I did next that bombed. I opened a package of Cabot’s Vermont cheddar that, perhaps for too long, had been languishing in the fridge. (The wrapper is, after all, treated paper.) Or it may have been that I used too much cheese; cheese is definitely near the top of the “too much of a good thing” list. The result was an evacuation of flavor. Not only did the cheese taste like nothing, but the bacon disappeared, too, at least from the palate. The tomato mixture and the baguette were perceptible and pleasant, but theirs were supporting roles.

Next time, I shall probably construct the sandwiches in the same way, but using good old reliable Gruyère instead of Cheddar. Then we’ll see. The bacon-and-tomato tartines are a bit more complicated to put together than the ham tartines that I’ve been turning out on most Mondays ever since I made the first one, but they’re still quite simple, quickly finished, and (let’s hope) really tasty. 

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