...because life is delicious

The Big Bad Thing

Feb 19, 2017 | Elementary, Poem

illustration by Kevan Hom

A big bad thing boarded the bus.

It wore shoes with holes

and stained dirty clothes.

And started quite the fuss.


GAA! GAA! GAANZA! He howled and yelled.

But then no one looked.

They just read their books

despite his breath that smelled.


The big bad thing tottered and lurched

but none seemed concerned.

Again, no one turned

nor moved from where they perched.


Except a pig-tailed sweetie pie

who nibbled and munched

a sandwich for brunch.

She stared straight in his eyes.


The big bad thing waggled his claws.

The girl waggled back.

The big bad thing gasped.

“She can see… me?” he paused.


The big bad thing hid out of view,

then went, “peek-a-boo!”

She gurgled and gooed

and pointed, “I see you!”


He blushed bright and smiled at the tyke.

The girl mimicked back

and came with her snack

to gently pet his spikes.


Gaa. Gaa. Gaaanza. The bad thing purred.

His stiff hairs tickled

and made her giggle.

His heart soared like a bird.


A bell rang; brakes smoked with a screech.

Then the doors flung wide.

A quick mother’s stride,

the girl gets pulled from reach.


She dug in her heels to turn back,

gave him woolen muff,

her sandwich and stuff.

Then doors shut with a SMACK!


He peered through the cold winter sun

and stared on and on

‘Til “Pig Tails” was gone.

Farewell my little one.


He looked down at sandwich in paw.

Then took a big bite

of grilled cheese delight.

His eyes widened in awe.


The big bad thing started to smile.

Their bites side by side

brought tears to his eyes

and warmed his heart for miles.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

makes 1 sandwich

prep time: 2 minutes
cook time: 10 minutes
total time: 12 minutes


2 slices thick-sliced white bread

1 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

1 thick slice mild cheddar cheese

1 thick slice Monterey Jack cheese


2 slices thick-sliced white bread

1 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

1 thick slice mild cheddar cheese

1 thick slice Monterey Jack cheese


Butter each slice of bread on both sides. Place onto skillet over medium-low heat until it begins to turn a light golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Using a spatula, flip over both slices of bread.

Place a slice of the mild cheddar on one slice of bread and the Monterey Jack cheese on the other.

Brown the bread until the cheese on top begins to melt, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Once cheese is melted, flip one of the slices of bread onto the other and press together to form a sandwich.

Transfer to cutting board to rest, about 2 minutes.

Cut in half diagonally and serve.



Adapted from Serious Eats

Author’s Notes

In the kitchen
A tip to having a flavorful, melty and non-floppy grilled cheese sandwich is to butter and griddle the two slices of bread on both sides – yes – including the inside faces where the cheese will be. Griddling both sides gives the bread more structure to hold up better when the sandwich is sliced diagonally in half (instead of getting squashed). Placing the cheese on the toasty browned inside surfaces also allows it to start melting faster while the outside is being griddled.

Grilled cheese is very versatile and there are hundreds of recipes in books and online that share delicious variations in the types of cheeses, breads, condiments and add-ins of fruits, vegetables, meat and even herbs. My favorite variation is to add a slice of ham or couple slices of bacon and scrambled eggs to make a breakfast sandwich.


In the classroom
Why do different cheeses melt in different ways? Cheese is simply water and fat that are bound together by protein molecules. Cheeses that have a higher water content, like mozzarella, brie, Gruyère and Jack are good melters, while drier cheeses like Parmesan or Pecorino-Romano often separate into clumps or break. That is why those drier cheeses are good for grating and sprinkling on top of food. Some cheeses, like those set with acid, will not melt at all. Acid-set cheese include fresh goat cheese, paneer, queso fresco and ricotta.


In life
This poem was inspired by a homeless man getting on public transit and the way people around him pretended that he didn’t exist even though he tried talking to them. Eventually he started to sing to himself and it struck me that no matter what mental state we are in or how different our circumstances may be, we are all still living beings that take enjoyment from certain things like music or food. These joys of life are universal and cut across differences in religion, age, culture, education, income or occupation. I wanted to write a story that exhibited the power of how food, especially a comfort food such as grilled cheese, can bridge those boundaries.