One of the great things about Paris is the food. It is also one of the most overwhelming aspects of taking a short trip to Paris. With all that marvelous food and pastries everywhere you look, how can one possibly decide what to eat and where to eat? Considering there is only enough time and appetite in one weekend for a certain amount of food, you have to make it count...or at least try to. That's what we did. We gave it our best effort to try a little bit of everything that we felt were must-try. We had the mentality going in that it would be more fun for us to see and do and eat a little bit of everything, rather than focus on just a few places/things. One of our stops was at a lovely little cafe sort of near the Latin Quarter, and my friend Cindy and I both enjoyed a magnificent sandwich. Mine was an open-faced Croque Monsieur that would put all other ham and cheese sandwiches to shame. It was complete bliss. We couldn't stop talking about them for the rest of our trip. If only I could remember the name of the cafe so I could return someday... Oh well. Making them at home will do just fine until then.
What's a Croque Monsieur? It's a fancy version of a ham and cheese sandwich that typically includes creamy bechamel sauce (bechamel is a "mother sauce" made with butter, flour, and milk) and then is baked or broiled until the cheese and sauce is bubbling and slightly browned. In French, croque comes from the word meaning "to crunch", and monsieur means "mister". If you add a fried egg on top of your Croque Monsieur, you have yourself a Croque Madame. I prefer the Monsieur version. Fortunately, making these at home are very easy and incredibly satisfying. I might have even had one for breakfast once.