The Grilled Cheese Diaries

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This post is part of a month-long August series, in which we asked writers to share their favorite sandwich recipes with us, to celebrate National Sandwich Month.

In the chaotic static of social media, an unfettered form of stream of consciousness, it’s hard to do status checks on the folks you care about. Instagram is a highlight reel; Facebook’s walls are littered with “fake news;” TikTok is not even sure what it is yet, and Twitter is just a mess of errant shower thoughts. And for all anyone can tell online, everyone is pretty much fine offline.

I mostly post about food, fitness activities, and writing, leaving the majority of my personal life out of the private eye. Fresh off my divorce, I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing in this new old world (or old new world?) of personal branding and online dating. But I also wasn’t about to reach out to each of my closest girlfriends and tell them how I was doing on every varied day of the emotional roller coaster I was riding in my newfound singledom. And I certainly wasn’t about to put it on my public account. And so, we devised a code: The Grilled Cheese Diaries.

I would make grilled cheese sandwiches on the nights I had dates, posting them on my Instagram stories for public consumption. I would make grilled cheese sandwiches when I was particularly stressed or anxious. I would also make grilled cheese sandwiches when I was happy. (I ate a lot of grilled cheese that year.)

Which Cheese Is Best?

But those in the know knew that the quality and composition of the sandwich was a direct reflection of my mental, emotional, or physical state. My more fanciful sandwiches meant I was feeling pretty, pretty good. Crusty multi-grain bread with multiple types of cheese, perhaps some meat or vegetables meant I was exuberant enough about something to treat myself indulgently, allowing my imagination to run wild. I’d slather on the butter, melt provolone and mozzarella with roast beef and, halfway through cooking, shove baby arugula in the middle. I’d even go so far as to make tuna melts, mixing up the salad in the morning for shredded cheddar and a slice of American cheese, grilling each half separately before adding the tuna at the last.

"I would make grilled cheese sandwiches on the nights I had dates, posting them on my Instagram stories for public consumption."


Healthier but messier grilled cheeses meant I was spending some time alone. I’d steam broccoli and carrots and chop them up really small, melting cheese on either side of the vegetables. I’d caramelize onions and melt Swiss or pepper jack with grilled chicken cut into bites, not caring that they’d fall out of the bread all juicy and hot. I’d make fun ones, like mozzarella with roasted red peppers and arugula, and drizzle some balsamic glaze on them.

Sandwiches that were easy to execute but seemed fancy meant I had company. Truffle cheese, bacon jam, onion marmalade, pepper jelly, specialty cheese blends, or other upscale ingredients grilled crusty on artisan bread. I made a mean grilled cheese for friends and suitors, and I made it with the good stuff.

But classic American cheese between whole wheat, with a side of tomato soup? My closest girlfriends knew that I was craving comfort and familiarity then, and some simplicity for a hectic day and a frazzled me.

The Grilled Cheese Diaries have since been retired. I’ve found my footing and myself, and grilled cheese is only ever grilled cheese these days. Check-ins are no longer cued; they just happen. And grilled cheese has only gotten better since then.

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Su-Jit Lin

Su-Jit Lin is a food, travel, wellness, shopping, and lifestyle writer who is passionate about writing stories that help. See Full Bio

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