Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Southern Staple: Pimento cheese
Photo stolen from this website
Growing up, I remember my parents and grandparents enjoying pimento cheese on a regular basis. Used on a sandwich, or ordered on a chili cheese dog at the Varsity, I was well acquainted with the mysterious yellow substance. I, however, never really enjoyed it, and lately, this has been causing me some consternation.
I would like to take a second to state that if you are unfamiliar with pimento cheese, you are likely not from the South. Basically it is a mix of cheese, mayonnaise, and pimentos. It is often served between two pieces of bread as a sandwich, with crackers as an appetizer, or simply as a condiment. While I suspect that it is not really as popular with the younger generations, I would be willing to wager that 9 out of 10 Southerners still know what it is. Somewhat related to my previous post, here is an article about pimento cheese on NPR's website.
As I mentioned, I never really found pimento cheese to be very appetizing. However, at some point last year, I decided that since my taste buds have matured, and since it had likely been a decade (at least) since I had last tried pimento cheese, I would give it another shot. I went down to the local Western grocery store and picked up a pint of local variety from the deli. Upon taking it home and trying it on some bread, I quickly came to realize that love for this substance still eluded me. In fact, as much as I like mayonnaise, I was really having trouble not gagging from the overwhelming mayo taste that accompanied this concoction. So, as quickly as it began, I gave up on my quest.
My interest was piqued again, however, while reading the November issue of "Garden & Gun." In the article "100 Southern Foods You Absolutely, Positively Must Try Before You Die," there was a featured picture and write-up of the pimento cheese and crackers from Blackberry Farm in Walland, TN, and frankly, it looked delicious. My likelihood of making it up to Walland to try the best pimento cheese in the South is pretty low, so I wondered if anyone might have a pimento cheese recipe to suggest. I would really like to avoid a recipe that has an overwhelming mayo flavor, and I am confident that it can be accomplished, I simply haven't tried it yet. I feel like my Southerner status is lacking as long as I cannot enjoy this staple, so please, share your best recipe.