The Real Difference Between A Croque Madame And A Croque Monsieur

Onion soup gratinée, moules or steak frites, the classic burger — these are just a few of the items that can be commonly found on French café or bistro menus in La République. Another classic is the humble yet mighty croque monsieur. According to The New York Times, the basics of a croque monsieur involve "a single layer of French ham and Gruyère pressed between two thin slices of bread." Ridiculously simple and yet, irresistible; The name literally translates to "Crunch Sir" from French.

So what sets this ham and cheese sando apart from the rest? The fact that the bread has been toasted and the cheese has been broiled or melted. After that, some experts like to build on the basics: David Lebovitz suggests using Comté or cheddar cheese, as well as a hefty dose of béchamel; while MasterClass proposes a dip in egg wash prior to frying, proving there are no wrong answers when it comes to the croque monsieur.

According to The Guardian, the croque monsieur was mentioned in both French classics Larousse Gastronomique (where it was spotted as a bar snack in a Parisian café) and the second volume of Marcel Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu

There's more to the croque family than you think

According to the Food NetworkThe New Food Lover's Companion states that the croque madame is simply a "croque monsieur... with the addition of a fried egg." Taste of Home says that the egg is meant to symbolizes a woman's hat, but we just appreciate how the sandwich's runny yolk provides a rich sauce when cutting through to the gooey cheese and salty ham.

As all classics worth their weight in gold, the croque family has risen in popularity throughout the years, with variations of the croque monsieur featuring other accoutrements beginning to crop up on menus around the world. MasterClass notes other popular riffs on the croque include the croque Provençal (made with tomatoes and herbs), the croque auvergnat (featuring blue cheese), and the croque Norvégien (which swaps the traditional ham for smoked salmon), to name a few.

Madame or monsieur, whichever you fancy, one thing is certain: the famed French sandwich offers pure, indulgent satisfaction.