The Beloved Croque Monsieur

French food has always appealed to me. The sauces, the spices and the aromas draw me in like a pin to a magnet. As a young woman, living in France in 1979 and 1980, I had opportunities to sample many different dishes, but it was the croque monsieur I remember most fondly.

The croque monsieur (French for “gentleman crunch”) is a mouth-watering version of a ham and cheese sandwich. Traditionally, the bread is a brichoe, known for its high egg and butter content. Boiled ham is preferred, topped with Emmental or Gruyère cheese and the sandwich is then grilled. Some restaurants add a Béchamel (white) sauce. Another yummy variation, the croque madame, is topped with a fried egg.

According to Wikipedia, “The sandwich’s first recorded appearance on a Paris café menu was in 1910. It’s earliest mention in literature appears to be in volume two of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time in 1918.” It is not surprising that other versions of the popular sandwich have popped up over the years. Here are a few examples – the croque provençal (add a tomato), croque auvergnat (with bleu d’Auvergne cheese) and croque norvégien (replace the ham with smoked salmon).

If you would like to learn more about my experiences in France, you can purchase a copy of my book, French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley, at For a nominal fee, you can add audible narration with Whispersync. The audiobook is also available at


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