Friday, May 9, 2008

Them's Fighting Words

There is a whole bunch of stuff (mashed potatoes, tomatoes) that most people like that I don't. I know that's weird. I can't help it.

Do you like pimento cheese? If not, please explain to me how this can be. I've met one person in my life who didn't "get" pimento cheese. She grew up in Virginia and told me she'd never heard of it. She was perplexed by it. "Why would anyone mix cheese and mayonnaise together? And eat it?"

There's just not much you do to help a case like that. Bless her heart.

I love pimento and cheese. LOVE IT. In my second book, I wrote a verah verah long chapter on pimento and cheese, including a bunch of different versions of it that were courtesy of the Southern Foodways Alliance. I eneded it with something like "but here's the best recipe for it ever, The End."

Pimento and cheese is distinctly summer. It makes me think of the smell of suntain lotion and the hum of window units and transister radios and the sound of flip flops on pavement and how cool the watermelon rind feels when you grasp it to take a big sweet bite. I love pimento and cheese, both for its taste and for what it evokes, even though summer is not really my favorite time of year.

A few weeks ago, Jeffrey, the child, and I had a picnic at Bear Pen Park in Cleveland. We had turkey wraps, which were fabulous: black pepper turkey, pesto mayonnaise, provolone cheese, and red onion. We had pasta salad that I made but didn't like all that much, chicken salad (which is another post) and we had pimento and cheese.

The child ate goldfish and a pimento and cheese sandwich with the crusts cut off.

I rather preferred the pimento and cheese with saltine crackers.

A warm - but not hot - day, fresh clover underfoot, blue skies overhead, swings, ducks that waddle into the pond for a swim, a picnic table, and PIMENTO AND CHEESE WITH SALTINE CRACKERS. It probably can get some better than that, but not a whole lot.

There isn't really a recipe for the pimento and cheese (I know that's annoying when someone goes on and on about something and then says, but I don't have a recipe for it - but I really DON'T have one). I make mine by grating one package (I guess about 8 ounces) of sharp cheddar. Grating the cheese makes a difference; the texture and taste is better than the packages of pre-shredded cheese. Then I grate some white onion into it. I have no idea how much; maybe a tablespoon or more? Add a medium jar of drained diced pimentos and stir in a spoonful or two of mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate overnight or for several hours.

***So ends food blogging on this post and so begins the gratuitious posting of photos.***
We love to feed the ducks.

Feeding the ducks is super fun.

Later that same day:

The Kentucky Derby party recap is up at the other blog. Not to miss: pictures of some wicked fine cheese straws.

Coming soon: A Girl and Her Grill, Part Two and Again with the Cheese-Stuffed Hamburgers.


Michelle said...

Ew . . . I don't get it either. I know, I know . . . what Southern gal just doesn't get pimento cheese? My mom loves it and there were always the little sandwiches at family gatherings. Maybe it's the color? I don't eat a lot of orange stuff.

Kim Sue said...

Well except for the tomato thing because I consider the only thing that can make pimento cheese any better is a good home grown tomato (ok someone else's home, not really grown at MY home, but you get the picture)on soft, fresh, squishy white bread...ahhhhhh

Mommy Cracked said...

Well, I definitely prefer chicken salad over pimento cheese. But I hate making it, so I swing by The Commons and buy it when I get a chance. And isn't Bear Pen the best free entertainment ever for a kid in C'Town?

AngelMc said...

I honestly don't think anybody could make pimento and cheese better than my Mama. She would grate the cheese and use pimento peppers that my Uncle grew in the garden. I'm sure she didn't do a thing special, except put those precious hands on it and a lot of love in it.

Joh said...

Ok, being 100% Yankee, I'd never experienced the pimento cheese phenomenon. In fact, I'd never even heard of it until I was watching Diners Drive Ins and Dives on Food TV -- It seemed frightening because I've never thought combining mayonnaise and cheese was a good idea. BUT, since I didn't think fried pickles were a good idea either, and was proven wrong during a brief visit to Charleston, I'm reserving judgment until I actually find a way to try it. And what books are these? Please tell me of them, you can e-mail me if you need instead.... I'm intrigued by books on heritage cooking. :)

Pamela said...

I've never had pimento cheese. I don't think I've ever even been in the same room as pimento cheese. A food writer wrote about it in the NYT awhile back - that's the only reason I've heard about it. I guess if I want to try it I'd better make it myself.

Keetha said...

There is not such thing as pimento cheese up here in the north. Oh, there's that little Kraft jar of cream cheese with pimento - - - but that just ISN'T the same.

I lived in the south from 1972 - 1984 and one of the things I LOVED most, besides Cheerwine and Lexington BBQ, was pimento cheese.

In fact - - - - just READING about it is making me REALLY wish I could have some right now.