Comfortable Food, a truck I caught up with at Civic Center Eats today, serves food under the motto "Zero pretension, 100% deliciousness." My lunch, though, was definitely operating with pretensions, even delusions of grandeur. Not content to be a simple grilled cheese sandwich, this one had evidently seen the world and latched onto a new identity as a jalapeño popper.
The standard elements are there: two pieces of grilled bread -- sourdough in this case -- glued together with a healthy (right!) layer of cheddar cheese.
But then the sandwich says, "I'm only crunchy and cheesy. I need to be more." And so it dons a layer of pepper jack cheese, adding just a hint of spice. Not satisfied, a few fat slabs of jalapeño come next; the sandwich achieves a respectable level of heat.
And then there's the cream cheese, at least as much of that as of the other two cheeses combined. And the thick-cut bacon. And the avocado. Somewhere, the daydreaming grilled cheese lost sight of its original goal and just went a little nuts. Still, the flavors combine into a gooey and fun mouthful: These are flavors that have played together in various permutations before, with considerable success. Bacon and avocado are somewhat universal in their ability to meld with other flavors. Kind of like Sandra Bullock.
The transformation to popper is mostly achieved: The grilled sourdough crust stands in for the fried breading of a real popper and the peppers and cream cheese do the rest. There's a mild surge of disapointment when you first realize that there aren't actual jalapeño poppers inside the sandwich, but rather only the main components. It's the difference between that kid you knew in high school who would give himself a faux-hawk on weekends and the genuine punk who never actually made it to class but could sometimes be seen in the parking lot sticking safety pins through his earlobes. This grilled cheese sandwich is the Green Day of punk rock sandwiches.
That's okay. After all, the mission of Comfortable Foods, according to its website, is not to "blow your mind with innovative things," but only to "provide you with unpretentious food that is certifiably delicious and refreshingly original." The sandwich knows, in its cheesy heart, that its life is best served as a grilled cheese sandwich, something at which it admirably succeeds. A little role-playing -- a fantasy or an adventure -- can spice things up just enough without seeming, you know, pretentious.
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Yeah, I Ate That will feature fun, unique and over-the-top foods from metro area restaurants. Cultural collisions, fast-food mashups and the culinary offspring of evil genius are all fair game. Have a suggestion? Post it in the comments section below, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.