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04/23/2003 Entry: "Nutritional Anthropology, and the history of the patty melt"

Ever wanted to know about General Tso's chicken? Go to Google--plenty of stuff. How about the Reuben? Yup, history of that's available too.

What about the patty melt?

It came up at the office today. How, I'm not really sure. But Paddy was talking about the patty melts he used to have as a child, and in his recolection, the patty melt included a slice of ham. Strange to me--I've never seen a patty melt with ham. So, we searched the web. What we found was a travesty.

No one knows anything about the patty melt. Some people have mushrooms on their patty melt. No! Some have mayonaise. No! Russian dressing? Please! So Paddy and I discussed what the patty melt should contain:
1) a hamburger patty.
2) grilled onions. (I would add that it should have plenty of onions. Copious amounts, even.
3) Cheese. We both agree it should be a melting cheese. The classic patty melt in my mind has American or Cheddar. In either instance, it should be orange. Cheese food can be used, but real American cheese is preferred. (Some don't even realize there's a difference between American Cheese and American cheese food.) Paddy thinks Cheddar is prefered. Many restaurants are using Swiss. I frown on this, and Paddy accepts it half heartedly, I think. But we both agree on some kind of cheese.
4) Grilled rye bread. We both agreed. It must be grilled, and it must be rye. You may use sour dough, but you may then not call the resultant sandwich a patty melt.

Note the ham is not considered essential. Still, something tells me that such a combo might work. It's almost a bacon thing. I surely would have no objections to bacon on a patty melt. (In fact, I rarely have an objection to bacon on anything--except chocolate covered bacon. I draw the line there.) Why then would ham not be acceptable. I willing to allow ham/bacon and as acceptable addition to the classic patty melt. Other than these additions, no other major condiments may be added. (Major condiments? Well, salt and/or pepper could be added. Maybe ketchup and mustard--though I would frown on that. Mayo? Right out! Dressings? Nope. Tabasco? Maybe.

Replies: 1 person has rocked the mic!

There's a resturant by my office that does a patty melt as your describe. Rye, cheddar, many many onions, and the requisete "patty", but they do use the russian dressing. I'd never had one that way, but I must say that I prefer it. Be it a true Patty Melt or not.

Posted by mlg @ 04/23/2003 04:34 PM EST

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