I picked a friend up from the airport earlier this morning. He just came back from a working trip in Beijing, and he had a 3 hours layover in Penang before catching his connecting flight back to KL. Don’t ask me why he didn’t fly directly between KL and Beijing, I have no idea how he and his admin booked his flights.
He said he needed a shower, internet access, and breakfast, in that particular order. So we just came back to my place, where water and internet is in abundance. And I made breakfast for us.
Usually, I would give in to my more eccentric tendencies when making food on weekends, but since there is someone else eating with me today, better to keep things simple and fail-safe. That is how I decided to make a French dish, the Croque-Monsieur!
Ingredients (for 2 pax)
- 4 slices of bread
- 4 slices of cheese (cheddar, parmesan, mozarella, whatever you got)
- 2 slices of ham
- a knob of butter
According to a Frenchie, this move will ensure no moisture will seep into the bread when cooking, keeping the sandwich crispy and fluffy rather than moist and soggy. Genius!
Croque-Monsieur is best served with Bechamel sauce. The problem is, to make a real bechamel sauce require extensive effort that I am not prepared to take. So, I settled for the best alternative instead. A quick trip downstairs to the in-house convenience store and problem solved.
All that is left is to plate up and eat..
The friend asked: “Why are you giving such a fancy name to your sandwich? It is just a normal grilled ham and cheese sandwich!”
It isn’t! Croque-Monsieur is a French dish! See, there’s even a Wikipedia entry for it, here!
Nobody really knows why the dish is called as such. After all, in French, croquer means to crunch/bite, monsieur means mister/man, so croque-monsieur is literally translated as: to bite a man? A version of the story is that, the French was inspired to make this after seeing some Polynesian natives (in some versions it was Australian aborigines) toasting a piece of meat between two pieces of dough. Those Frenchies thought the meat was human flesh. That’s how the idea of croque-monsieur is born, at least in one version of the stories.
There are a few modern variations to this dish. For example, if you serve it with a poached egg on top of the sandwich, the dish is called croque-madame.
If you want to know how to pronounce Croque-Monsieur, watch this video by French Guy Cooking. I myself was inspired to do it after watching it. This is the same guy who inspired me to make the failed Okonomiyaki with his UMAI! declaration. 😀