Monday, June 10, 2024

Rant: I Don't Want A French Toast Bagel

I'm very disappointed. I recently visited a favorite diner, wanting to enjoy a Monte Cristo sandwich. It's 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, could be covered in powdered sugar, and so on. There might even be a side of jelly with your sandwich.

No one seems to know the exact origins of the Monte Cristo though it's believed to be a variation of the French croque-monsieur, which is basically a grilled ham and cheese sandwich that was invented around 1910. The earliest newspaper mentions I found for the Monte Cristo were from the 1920s, and nearly all in California, which might be where the name was coined, although no one knows the origin of that name, and if it truly is related to the Count of Monte Cristo.

This diner used to make an excellent Monte Cristo. For me, and many others, maybe the most compelling element of this sandwich is the use of French toast. What a wonderful and delicious vehicle for the meat and cheese. The eggy texture and flavors of the French toast elevate this sandwich. Without the French toast, this would be a rather boring ham, turkey and cheese sandwich. And French toast also makes a great vehicle for many other sandwiches as well. 

As I perused their menu, I noticed a significant change to the Monte Cristo. It was no longer on French Toast but was rather on a French Toast bagel. To me, that ruined the sandwich! I've had French toast bagels before, on their own, and have never been excited about them. It's more than an issue of flavor, but rather much more about the texture. I want the eggy softness of French toast rather than the chewy texture of a bagel.    

The restaurant still makes other French toast dishes, so it's not a matter that they have stopped making French toast. Why make such a drastic change to the Monte Cristo? Yes, it's different, but that doesn't make it better. Why not include both versions on the menu if you wanted to try something different with a bagel? Texture matters with food, and a chewy bagel isn't the same as eggy, soft French toast.

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