A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What I Had for Lunch Today: Croque-Mademoiselle and Home-Made Ginger Ale

A common French sandwich is the croque-monsieur...a fried ham-and-cheese sandwich. It's a classic, but has a few variations, such as a version with Béchamel sauce slathered on top. Add an egg and you've got a croque-madame. These are pretty standard French foods...and believe me, the French take their standards seriously. A veggie version without ham just wouldn't be a croque-monsieur.

"Croque-madmoiselle," however, seems to be up for grabs. Not that nobody in the world's ever dubbed a sandwich with that moniker, but at least the Académie française doesn't seem to be keeping track. So for lack of a better name, I'm calling my version of the fried sandwich a croque-mademoiselle. (I could've gone the Italian route, but who wants to get into the old panino/panini debate?)

To make this sandwich, I used an old Salton sandwich maker, bought at the Salvation Army a few years ago for five dollars. When my sons and I were living in our crappy apartment on Dalton Street in Wilbraham, it was a splurge. We experimented with everything from grilled cheese to toasted peanut butter-and-banana sandwiches.

I used rye bread from Chmura's bakery, a freeform loaf with oval slices, not exactly what's called for in one of these things, but I can't stand store-bought white bread. It made for an unusually-shaped sandwich when the perforating blades got through with it. I buttered the sandwich on the outside and filled it with Brie and two slices of fried "bacon." I ate this with a salad of romaine and grape tomatoes.

The Brie was Sûpreme, even softer and creamier than Coeur de Lion, for those that are looking for the ultimate in creamy Brie and have access to a wide variety of cheeses.

For a beverage, I had home-made ginger ale. That's nothing but a spoonful of ginger syrup stirred into a glass of sparkling water. To make ginger syrup, grind up some ginger root and some sugar in the Cuisinart. No need to peel the ginger--just wash it and cut it into chunks. Then boil up the whole business with some water, let it sit for a day or two to extract the flavor, and strain it into a jar. Refrigerate and use in soda, tea, stir-fries, over ice cream, or wherever you want sweetened ginger flavor. Gingertini, anyone?

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