Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Laurence Simon’s lovely bride Gina will apparently have a Panini Griller among the pile of Birthday Swag delivered unto her today, courtesy of Bob (with whom I’ve been privileged to break bread chez Simon on a few occasions).

A Panini Press is kinda sorta like those George Foreman grills - a device with heated metal plates. Instead of merely grilling and compressing your Hamburger Patties, however, a Panini Press grills and compresses your Panini.

And WTF is a Panini? you ask. Let Mr. Debonair explain:

“A Panini is the Fancy-Pants version of the old Grilled Cheese Sandwich. Imagine, if you will, a Grilled Cheese Sandwich. But instead of that old reliable Whole Wheat or White Bread, use a nice, chewy Ciabatta bread. And throw out that glossy, fluorescent orange American cheese. Use Asiago, or Fontina, or maybe Brie instead - and stuff in some turkey, ham (gack), some roasted red peppers, and a few basil leaves. Mash it flat and grill it in a Panini Press, and you’ve got a grilled cheese sammitch that can hold its own in the jet-set capitals of Europe amongst the Moneyed Elite!”

Thank you, Mr. D.

Years ago, before the Marketing Geniuses figured out that they could take a George Foreman grill, double its price, and sell it as a Panini Press, there was a similar Kitchen Gewgaw that did pretty much the same thing: the Sandwich Mold. You stuck a couple of slices of bread in it, added your fillings, and closed the mold. In a few minutes, out would pop a Molded Sandwich - a Panini in all but name.

SWMBO became enamored of this device a number of years ago and purchased one. It was very useful for a while - the Missus loves her a Grilled Cheese sammitch every now and then, and this thing made good ones - but, as with all single-purpose Kitchen Devices, it eventually fell into disuse.

When we moved from Houston to Atlanta, the Sandwich Mold was packed up along with all of the other Kitchen Stuff.

Eventually, several years later, we came upon the Sandwich Mold. It had been put aside, consigned to that peculiar oblivion that is the fate of the Rarely Used Appliance.

To our horror, we found that there was a Mummified Sandwich in it.

The sandwich had to have been five years old, perhaps more. You would’ve expected it to have had so much green mold growing on it, it could have been mistaken for an especially hirsute Chia Pet - but no. Apparently, the combination of Fluorescent American Cheese Preservatives and being hermetically sealed inside the sandwich mold had put it in suspended animation. Amazing! The thing had not only retained enough of its shape that it was immediately recognizable, it looked almost brand-new. Shit!

No doubt one of the kids had been preparing herself a sandwich in the Infernal Device and had gotten distracted. That’s our theory, anyway.

It was a Zombie Sandwich, and we buried it with a toothpick in its heart.

The Sandwich Mold itself we burned at the stake. There was no way we could think of salvaging it after having housed a decomposing Grilled Cheese for over half a decade. I mean, what would you do?

To this day, when I see Panini on the menu, I cringe inwardly...

Panini? Pah! No! No!!!

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