Trust Your Taste 040

American Cheese + Borrowed Nostalgia

Happy Sunday! Here’s something tasty, something true, and some musings on food in storytelling to ponder over your favorite Sunday Treat.

But first- an announcement!

It’s virtual! So you can be there!

Mark your calendars! July 28th at 3:00PT/6:00ET for the next virtual Trust Your Taste Workshop. The online version is slightly different than the in-person workshop. It’s slightly shorter, but still with enough room to eat, write, reflect, and explore how connected we are to sensory memory.

Something Tasty: A cheese pairing to try

American Cheese

I hope you’ve had a relaxing long weekend filled with fun, family, friends, and food. If there’s anything I’m patriotic about, it’s American cheese.

And no, I’m obviously not talking about K**** singles.

So what is American cheese? Besides the grand renaissance of diverse cheeses being made in the U.S.A., most people think of an orange plastic-y limp sheet of something resembling cheese. But is it cheese?


Even the FDA says so, and I don’t take what they say as the gold standard, but it’s a “pasteurized processed cheese product”.

Is it a gastronomic wonder invented to be shelf-stable and use up parts of other cheeses to reduce waste? Absolutely.

Even well-known chefs will choose American for a burger or grilled cheese at home. And one of them might even be trying to improve it

And here’s the thing- this is quite a hot and emotionally divisive topic, and many have different feelings, but here is my official and unwavering stance on it:

It is not cheese. But that doesn’t mean it’s not delicious.

It should not warrant cheese-shaming, especially when it’s linked to so much nostalgia, and is vital in communities where shelf-stable food is crucial.

With most things, but especially with food- you should never apologize for what you like.

Something True: A truth about myself

Borrowed Nostalgia

Tiny me, probably eating something organic

Here’s the truth.

I did not grow up with processed food in the house. Especially dairy, as you can imagine.

I am ultimately grateful for this, and talk about my mother’s influence of what we ate as kids in this newsletter.

But growing up in the 90’s was filled with tasty, colorful, processed food: Lunchables, gushers, lucky charms, any tasty crunchy thing in a bag!

It was all the fun food! And, at least at my elementary school, the food of the popular kids at lunch.

The only time I had American singles was when I went over to a friend’s house. And honestly?? I didn’t like them. But I felt like I should? Because everyone else seemed to?

So now, even though it wasn’t really a part of my life, I do have this weird sense of nostalgia for American cheese.

It’s really weird. I have this feeling with other non-food things too, where I feel nostalgic for something that happened while I was growing up, but I didn’t necessarily wholly experience myself?

I didn’t have cable, but cartoon network still feels nostalgic? That kind of stuff.

This is a whole concept I really want to explore more, which is my idea of “borrowed nostalgia”.

Maybe I’ll come up with a term for it someday, some butchered latin derivative like “memoria mutuari” or “solamentum”.

I guess nostalgia in itself is a form of longing, so it works? If you have a feeling, isn’t that enough for it to belong to you?

Enough heady stuff- If you had burgers on the grill this weekend, what cheese did you use, if any?

Farm to Fable: How food shows up in storytelling 

The Ultimate Grilled Cheese in Chef

This is one of my favorite movies, and you can’t watch it without getting hungry. In this scene Jon Favreau’s character makes an epic grilled cheese for his son.

Favreau later created “The Chef Show” where he re-created many of the iconic recipes featured in the movie with the chef that mentored him throughout the filming process, Roy Choi. They even did the grilled cheese, revealing the exact cheeses they used!

What are your go-to cheeses for a grilled cheese??

Until next time,


P.S. - Sunday Scaries

A terrifying AI image to help us all rest knowing AI bots could never replace a real human artist:

This week the prompt was “a grilled cheese setting off fireworks”

Ummmmm. Hm. I just don’t know about this one guys…

It kind of looks like… idk sorry!