The Perfectionist’s Grilled Cheese

I am a perfectionist. There. I said it! For a long time, I thought perfectionists were… Well… Perfect. I thought they were perfect in all their ways. However, I looked it up and according to dictionary.com, a perfectionist is simply:

1. A person who adheres to or believes in perfectionism.

2. A person who demands perfection from himself, herself, or others.

Number 2 really gets me. In my mind, a perfectionist has it all together. She’s the girl with bouncy hair, walking gracefully in those should be painful pumps, with her 2 perfectly polished children in tow and an admiring husband at her side. She meets deadlines and wins approval. She is successful in all of her endeavors. She returns phone calls promptly and is wonderfully tech savvy. In reality though, she’s just me. She’s the girl in the ponytail and ballet flats chasing down a floppy haired one year old. The perfectionist mindset is the thing that stunts my growth as a human and makes me a ridiculous procrastinator. It keeps me awake at night running the interactions of a simple birthday party over and over in my mind. I obsess over how I could have worded something differently or how I wish my husband had handled an awkward situation differently. It pulls the safety rug of acceptance right from under my family. It makes me too critical of not just me, but them, I’m ashamed to say. It makes me cautious to a fault, boring in the kitchen, and too quiet during praise and worship services. It gives me heart palpitations when walking into a crowd and makes me postpone important projects whether required or just for fun. Why do I postpone them? I postpone them because of what I dread more than I can possibly put into words… Because what if I do it WRONG?? What if it looks sloppy? What if there is an error? What if I am made a fool?? It is crippling and haunting and has taken way too much of my life. It is even what has kept me from writing for 3 months now! Tonight, I’m breaking myself out of the perfectionist prison… at least long enough to get back on track with this recipe challenge!

In the midst of all the things I feel I do wrong, there are some things I do very right. You might say I’ve… perfected them… One of those things is the art of grilled cheese. Yeah, I know. So what? You probably learned how to make it when you were like 6. But there is something about a perfectly crunchy, perfectly gooey, perfectly buttered grilled cheese that comforts the soul and makes the world feel right again. I even ate one while in the throws of labor, in between contractions! It’s simple, unintimidating, friendly, and classic. I’ve not only perfected it but I’ve actually… Wait for it… Expanded its’ definition by way of experimenting in the kitchen! I’m a rule follower, a list checker, a recipe nazi. But somehow, there is safety, and there is sanctuary, between those two slices of toasty bread.

It was my favorite thing to eat growing up! We ate it on church nights with popcorn because we were short on time. My Mamaw made it. My mom made it. My dad made it. And when we had to move far, far away after my parent’s divorce, I made it. Sad, lonely, little me, would make it for myself and my brother. And just like that, everything was ok. We didn’t feel so alone. Helplessness had no power. It filled our bellies and warmed our hearts. It was just the normal kind: 2 pieces of white bread, 2 generous slatherings of butter (probably margerine from a tub), and 1 slice of individually wrapped Velveeta cheese. Serious perfection.

Since then, I’ve tried some other fun ways to grill cheese! Grilled pimento cheese is amazing! Grilled Brie with thinly sliced apples… Grilled mozzarella with tomato and basil using olive oil instead of butter… These are some of my favorites! I still like popcorn on the side of mine but a hot bowl of soup is equally delicious, oh so comforting, and a little more grown up! I’d love to hear your favorite ways to enjoy this flawless food!

It sure feels good to be back with you, along with all of my imperfections. Stay tuned while I tackle that ultimate Southern wonder: grits!! No worries… I’ll serve them up with a love story, of course!