**HAM**, cheese and bread. What, at first, may appear to be three of the most basic ingredients in culinary equations has transformed many a foodie and chef into obsessive mad scientists, in search for their ultimate combination.

While scientists may spend hours in front of their blackboards, trying to solve problems which will finally see them awarded the Nobel Prize, our tireless food fanatics are searching far and wide for the perfect balance to the ever-elusive the HCB conjecture. Mathematics may be **complex**, but when it comes to ham, cheese and bread, you may be stretching into a branch of algebra which makes even the Millennium Prize Problems look like a walk in the park.

With ever-changing variables, based on the smallest adjustments, the HCB is a convoluted equation. Should B^{2 }automatically be solved as H^{2}C^{2} or does in require the inclusion of L^{ettuce} and T^{omato} for equilibrium? Are K^{etchup} and M^{ayonnaise} variables or absolutes? Can M^{ayonnaise} be wholly disregarded and replaced with M^{ustard}, no matter what the assumption or must they be combined for a truly balanced solution?

B^{2}/(TLH^{2}C^{2}) or B^{2}/(LTH^{2}C^{2})?

B^{2}/(THCLHC) or B^{2}/(HLTC)?

Where does the K fit in this? Or the M? And then which one, or both?

A new school of thought eschews the H^{2}C^{2} altogether and redefines B to propose a BLT conjecture! Is this the realm of genius or heresy?

Above and far beyond the realm of the HCB conjecture, comes an ultimately more multifaceted conjecture, though. Only discussed in hushed tones and well away from the chalk and pencil marks of more staid researchers, exists The Croque. Adding both masculine and feminine gender-differentiators, a much-debated addition of intricate fluid mechanics – known only as B^{e} – and energy modifiers as an overall catalyst, the Croque is the granddaddy of all HCB variations.

And yet, word was going round that one had cracked the problem. In a moment of enlightenment, not only did he overlay the HCB with the contested B^{e}, he managed to integrate it within the original equation as well, creating unforeseen effects of stability. As a finishing flourish, he included one more variable; a distinctive variation of M, elaborated by French scientist in 1856. A final coup de grace to all those that had battled the Croque conjecture in the past or a personal folly that would bring the whole equation crashing down?

One Sunday morning, a group of aspiring HCB researchers, also known as the **Croque Police Tastings** (Click to sign up), composed of **@Garlicconfit**, my dear D. and I, embarked on an expedition to investigate, assess and analyse the fruits of their travails. The culinary community was rife with commentary, ranging from scientific speculation to playful mockery, but it did not detract the from the team’s concentration and diligence.

**Our goal**: To verify that the most complex HCB conjecture variant, had been irrevocably solved.

**O****ur target**:** ****The Draft House** where Charlie Mc Veigh and his team took on the challenge to find the right equation.

**Our findings**? Ladies and gentleman, here it is, I give you the perfect Croque Monsieur!

**B ^{e}/(B^{2}/(B^{e}C^{2}H^{2}M^{D})**

Two slices of Bread, Béchamel inside and outside the Croque Monsieur, Ham and the ultimate touch: some Dijon Mustard. What a clever idea!

The toasted bread was crunchy, and not too soggy. The béchamel and the cheese combined together created a good texture. The ham added a very enjoyable meaty taste and the Dijon Mustard gave a great kick to the dish.

Well done to the Draft House for their hard work!

**The Draft House Northcote**

94 Northcote Road

London SW11 6QW

020 7924 1814

www.**draft****house**.co.uk

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C’etait vraiment ‘Le Croque du Rock’!

I need that croque with an egg. right now.

In a few days, my dear, in a few days

Mathilde…this is further confirmation that you are bonkers. But in a nice way. Thanks so much.

Libby, a Croque with an egg is a Croque Madame (you’ve been told).

My dear Charlie, being a bonker is the best compliment you can give me, I love it!

Surely the BCH strains are of vast importance.

What is the Best BCH for the CM????????

oh yes, please. our perfect sunday breakfast.

We usually eat that dish as a meal in France but it is a very good idea to have it for breakfast

Sigh. Real croques. I miss them.

They are very easy to make, you should try

I have to say I have a very enjoyable croque madame at Patisserie Valerie in Knightsbridge. Can’t have too many of those though, my poor waistline suffereth!

I have never tried one there but I will definitely go next time