Retroview: The Microwaved Quesadilla

Warning: This quesadilla may not have been microwaved–Photo by Borderline AmazingQuesadilla

There would seem to be two obvious ways of looking at the microwaved quesadilla: “sounds good” and “sounds gross.” When I was younger–around about 12–I was firmly in the “sounds good” camp. Recently, I was pretty firmly in the “sounds gross” camp. And then a few days ago, in a hurry and lacking a better idea, I tried one again. And so I’m now back in the “sounds good” category.

Before we get too far, an explanation. This is the most American of quesadillas. It’s essentially a tortilla-not-bread, microwave-not-griddle, grilled cheese sandwich. A white flour tortilla–always bought at the grocery store because I’m scared of making my own. And then grated cheese, I prefer Colby Jack. And then another one of those far-from-great tortillas. Microwaved for 45 seconds on medium high, and eaten soon enough that you avoid that rubberiness that accompanies anything that sits too long after emerging from the microwave.

I did my best to make it sound bad in that last paragraph, and even now I admit I’m hungry enough for it to sound delicious. Part of it’s that cheese–store brand Colby Jack–it’s got a great buttery flavor that is sorely lacking in even the least-sharp cheddar cheese I’ve had. And that butteriness along with the stark unhealthiness of store-bought white flour tortilla’s is reminiscent of all the joy such foods brought before I knew about calories, carbohydrates, the many types of fat, and the perils of sodium. Also before I ever had any notion that many people snub food made in the microwave.

There’s a time in every child’s life–for me, it was as I finished elementary school–during which the microwave is the magic wonder that proves that you can feed yourself. You’re no longer given the stark choice between eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches–not that there’s anything wrong with them–and waiting for an adult to come home and cook you a snack. During those years, I probably ate far more microwaved quesadillas (and microwaved hot dogs) than is healthy for anyone. But I didn’t know and didn’t care about “healthiness.”

I’d be a liar if I said that part of the new-found appeal of the microwaved quesadilla wasn’t nostalgia for those times. But I’d also be a liar if I said it doesn’t taste as good as anything I’ve cooked in well over a week. If that’s because this quesadilla’s that good or because my cooking’s that bad is an answer I’ll leave for a different time and place.