Ladies and gentlemen today we’re going through a quick culinary journey just so you know what’s all the fuss about the croque-monsieur. 2 slices of soft bread, a slice of ham and some cheese. That’s all it takes to make the people happy sometimes. But where does it come from? And first of all why is it even called croque-monsieur (literally a Sir-biter)?
Well, in 1910, Parisians used to eat at Bel Âge, Michel Lunarca’s notorious café located boulevard des Capucines, to eat sandwiches. One evening, overwhelmed by tourists’ orders Michel ran out out of bread. He decided to use soft bread in order not to lose clients, adding in between the ingredients we all know now, and he put the sandwich in the oven to make it crispy. Jealous of his success, nearby bistrots spread rumors about Michel being a cannibal.
When asked what was in the new sandwich, Michel jokingly replied “Man! Sir meat!”. Making the most of the joke, Michel named the sandwich croque-monsieur and added it to the restaurant’s menu the next day.
These days, the croque-monsieur is made in the oven or on a grill. Recipes are upgraded with different types of cheese (emmental, melted cheese slices, conté, etc.), sometimes béchamel sauce and baked cheese on top. It’s a cheap sandwich that can be eaten anytime and that can save the day when on a budget.
There is a croque-madame version. Just as delicious, it holds a sunny side egg on top in remembrance of the hat women used to where back then.