Le cul entre les deux chaises

An American Spaniard in France or: How I Learned to Make an Ass of Myself in Three Cultures

Bachelor Food: grilled cheese and tomato soup


This is a combination that I distinctly remember “inventing” when I was a kid and I was disappointed to learn years later that many, many people had grown up having grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup served to them by their mothers. I do think that it’s a Midwesternism though, so I’m going to expand the definition of my invention to include that it’s part of the hive mind and leave it at that.

Let's never speak about how ugly this bowl is.

Let’s never speak about how ugly this bowl is.

I was inspired to reprise this classic childhood treat after finding single-serving containers of tomato soup sold by some German company in the “weird food” section of one of my local stores and by the pilot episode of FX’s new series, FARGO, where two adult characters have this combo for lunch.

Disregard that Canadian network logo. They aren't in MN or ND.

Disregard that Canadian network logo.

This is where I tell you that despite most of the action in the story, both the show’s and the 1996 film’s upon which it’s loosely spun off, taking place in Minnesota, Fargo is actually a town in North Dakota. Being an ex-Midwesterner, this kind of flagrant disregard for our state boundaries and identities pisses me off. Now everyone who watches the show is going to have an even worse idea of where things are located in that vast area that’s alternately tundra and arable land and where people do talk with weird accents, albeit not all the same one.

It’s on the eastern border with Minnesota.

Author: le cul en rows

I'm an American Spaniard, living in France. I like to tell stories.

12 thoughts on “Bachelor Food: grilled cheese and tomato soup

  1. OH, I used to love eating grilled cheese and tomato soup! I’ll have to introduce this to my husband, I don’t think I’ve done that yet :) These days I will choose to make homemade tomato soup and of course I won’t be able to use American cheese but I think he’ll get the idea. I know what you mean about film, I often see things in movies about locations or how people come across that really irritate me. I tell myself it’s only a movie but it seems to me that people here take it all as very real and then perceive people in this way.

    • Are you from the Midwest too? I can’t imagine, say, kids in Florida gobbling this combo up, but maybe they did.

      I used a yellow cheddar that I can sometimes get around here (the white doesn’t melt right) and had the benefit of really good bread to make this a pretty killer nostalgia meal. The soup, as I mentioned, was German and the brand was something like Leipzig. It wasn’t Campbell’s but I kind of liked it better since it was lighter.

      Let me know how your husband likes it. This, like Hellmann’s mayo, could be a thing you have to grow up loving to love.

      • No, not from the Midwest. I spent a large portion of my life in Texas, my Dad’s home. I feel like people here think it’s all cowboys and ranches (Dallas TV show). And sure there are still cowboys and ranches in Texas but there’s a lot more too!

        I’m sure my husband will love it and I think we’ll use cheddar too :)

      • To your second point from above, I was really annoyed that people in Spain thought TV-living was real. I can’t tell you how many times I explained that none of the characters on FRIENDS could afford their apartments in real life and people would just counter with another fictional character like the one in THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA. I have a sense (hope?) that Americans understand on some level that all those filmed versions of things are fictional but I’m not sure.

        And Texas is a vast and varied land, but at least most people know where it is. Flyover Country is just a mashup of funny-talkers that no one can place. In Spain, I’d tell people I was from “near Chicago” because that’s the only place they’d vaguely heard of out of a group of 7 or 8 states.

        PS. Remember: Cheddar makes everything better.

      • I’ll remember that, Cheddar does make everything better. I try to always have it on hand just in case I need it.

  2. TI lived in Fargo when the movie came out. The Coen brothers explained that though the movie was filmed in Brainerd, MN, if they called it Brainerd no one would go to see it. I haven’t seen the TV show because it’s on one of those ‘premium’ channels.

    • The show’s ok so far and may be worth checking out once it’s on Netflix or wherever. Despite the ND / MN mixup, it’s pretty great to be reminded of great-sounding MN towns like Bemidji whose pronunciation would confuse non-Midwesterners.

  3. If you read the small print on the Liebig containers you will see that it is owned by Campbells. A lot of their soups are very good and as far as I can see are not full of chemicals.

    • You’re right! I bought some more of this soup this week and was totally surprised by the tiny Campbells logo. I was sure the brand was a Knorr knock-off since the lettering, logo and color scheme were very Knorr-like, but I was wrong. I really like this stuff so far and will have to use them in recipes instead of inhaling the containers.

  4. Bachelor food? Naw, just comfort food. I crave it often. (Well, I am a bachelorette so….hmmmm.)

    • I’m a girl too and only call myself a bachelor as I don’t care too much for diminutive forms of nouns (comes from being short, I think). But I do love simple comforting foods and this sure was one.

      PS. Congrats on being a Person of Record in the Paper of Record! High-five for expat Americans making waves in Paris! (Everyone else can see what I’m taking about here http://tinyurl.com/jvgeqae

      • Hey, thanks for that. Yes, we’re getting a ton of press for our efforts, and we have thousands of Parisian supporters, so it seems we’re doing the right thing. Saving a UNESCO World Heritage Site is always a good idea!

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