Enter the Toastie

I grew up, as most people in this part of the world, with my fair share of toasted sandwiches. I think we had a snackwich at some point, but the version I mostly had was my mother’s: brown government loaf, first toasted, and then dressed with thickly sliced tomato and onion, followed by a healthy topping of bright orange cheddar cheese, and maybe a sprinkling of paprika before it went under the grill to get melted to the point of almost burning (my mother taught me to love pretty much everything well done, which is why I continue to embarrass some of my rare-meat-eating friends by ordering my fillet steak well done. I also loved those toasted sandwiches: I remember them as a rainy day treat when I was in primary school, when my mother and I would drink hot chocolate, eat toasted “sandwiches” – they weren’t really, of course, because they were open-faced, Danish style – and browse cookbooks or Ikea catalogs together, dreaming about me growing up one day).

Maybe because of her, or more likely because of my very own set of prejudices around certain foods, I’ve never much been into toasted sandwiches that were a) closed, b) composed of white bread, or c) served as an accompaniment to a braai. (Who needs a toasted sandwich when you can just eat a load of meat??).

But there must be a statute of limitations on food snobbery. I live in South Africa, after all, and here the toastie is much respected in some circles. And so I was pleased when the Philosophe came home yesterday and announced that he was making them. And so the toastie entered our home (admission: I have been in their presence before, but in the past my snobbery prevailed and I turned my nose up).

Step 1:

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White bread buttered, adorned with (thinly!) sliced tomato, and expertly seasoned.

Step 2:

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Onions.

Step 3:

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Chutney. (Mrs. Ball’s, naturally).

Step 4:

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Cheese. Plenty of it (though the Philosophe admitted that by some standards he was being quite conservative with the cheese).

Step 5:

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Close and fire! (Notice how well-done is definitely an option here. My mother would like the blackened one).

Step 6:

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Step back, have a sip of wine, look at the mountain, and remember how lovely it is to live in Cape Town.

(Redux: I admit that I enjoyed my toastie muchly, though a half was as much as I could manage – my eyes were mostly for the sausage. But apparently it’s imperative to make too many so you can enjoy cold leftovers the next day. The Philosophe proved this by having one for breakfast. I believe he did his people proud).

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