I love a good Monte Cristo sandwich and as I have been eating them for years, I have tasted them at a wide variety of restaurants. Despite my love for this sandwich, there is an element that I dislike and fail to understand.
A Monte Cristo sandwich is essentially ham, turkey and Swiss cheese between two pieces of French toast, though there are plenty of regional variations across the country. For example, the cheese might be different, the sandwich might be grilled or fried, it may contain spicy mustard, and so on. No one seems to know the exact origins of the Monte Cristo though it is believed to be a variation of the French croque-monsieur, which is a grilled ham and cheese sandwich that was invented around 1910.
One of the Monte Cristo's most well known appearances occurred in 1966 at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. Though it likely existed before this time, the Monte Cristo appeared on their menu of the Blue Bayou restaurant in Disneyland and became quite popular. As for the name itself, it might have been inspired by the novel, The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas though that is pure conjecture.
To my dismay, many Monte Cristo sandwiches are dusted with powdered sugar, and accompanied by maple syrup or fruit jam/preserves. I have previously discussed my dislike of powdered sugar and I don't understand its addition to a savory sandwich. What about turkey, ham and Swiss calls out for powdered sugar? Or maple syrup and jam/preserves? Absolutely nothing. I want a savory sandwich for lunch not dessert as my entree.
It seems that the draw for these sweet additions is the use of French toast. If you receive a plate of French toast for breakfast, it will often be dusted with powdered sugar and accompanied by maple syrup. I dislike that as well, as I don't want dessert for breakfast either. I don't think the mere use of French toast in the Monte Cristo warrants these sweet accompaniments. French toast sometimes comes with whipped cream too. Would you want that on your Monte Cristo? All the sweetness of powdered sugar and maple syrup covers the taste of the meats and cheese.
So keep all that sweetness away from my Monte Cristo! Or can someone make me understand the allure of these sweet additions?