I am slowly eating my way through the sandwich menu at Tartine Bakery. First, I made a Tartine sandwich recipe at home, and now I've had the real deal, times three. These are no dainty French sandwiches but rather two-handed handfuls, cut into thirds, with each third the size of a normal half sandwich. Check out photos from my first visit as well as a recent return with my mom in the gallery below.
Americans tend to give sandwiches names: the Reuben, the beef on weck,
you we name it. Naming sandwiches is something that our country excels at unlike any other, but the French have one notable exception: the croque monsieur and its mate, the croque madame. The croque monsieur, which sounds slightly less glamorous translated as "crispy mister," (ha!) is an iconic French dish that begins as a humble ham and cheese sandwich. What makes it très magnifique is the combination of bechamel sauce with already decadent gruyere cheese. The white bread is then topped with cheese that's browned in the oven and, in the case of the croque madame, it's finished with an egg.
According to chef Daniel Boulud, the croque monsieur was invented in 1910 at a café on Paris’s Boulevard des Capucines, right around the time the middle class was embracing cafe culture and, in turn, sandwiches. And thank goodness they did. I have had delicious croque monsieurs, but I've actually never ordered one in France. How about you?