Monday, November 17, 2008

An ode to pimento cheese...

I was doing my weekly shopping today, and all of a sudden, I got a craving for some good ol' pimento cheese. As I am pregnant, these cravings strike without warning and are usually for random things, like gummy bears and all natural white cheddar cheese puffs.

As I ate my pimento cheese sandwich, smiling at the yellowy goodness with the red flecks of pimento, slathered generously between two slices of lightly toasted whole wheat, I started thinking, "Does everyone eat pimento cheese?" Hmmm, I think its a Southern thing.

So I started doing some research. It is. It appeared on the scene in the South in the early 20th century, and was sold widely in Southern grocery stores by about 1915. Every self-respecting mamaw below the Mason-Dixon line had a recipe for it in her card file. The main ingredients are shredded cheddar cheese, mayo, and pimento, and if you want to be authentic, it has to be Duke's.

In the small town where my mother grew up, there was only one pimento cheese, if you didn't want to be ridden out of town on a rail. It was Musten and Crutchfields. They were the local grocer and butcher, and though their store has come down a good bit from its former glory, you can buy their pimento cheese in stores all over Kernersville. And slightly larger towns surrounding it. This is good stuff, y'all. I bought the processed stuff at Walmart today, but I was wishing I could go home and pick up the real thing.

And if you're not Southern, don't knock it until you've tried it. It is the stuff of everyday Southern life, at least when I was growing up. It is the essential sandwich at small town Southern wedding receptions everywhere. And its good on everything, from celery to Ritz crackers. Mmmm.

If you want to read more, go here. =) And this is also a good article. I'm sooo deep on this blog, lately.


Kristin said...

I scanned part of the first article. My favorite part: "Everything needed to make it are just staples in your pantry; mayonnaise, canned pimentos and Cheddar cheese." ha!

And it seems as though the North and the South both had their own unique ways of using pimentos. I grew up watching my grandparents eat pimento loaf. It's kind of like baloney with pimentos in it. It's nasty. :)

Anonymous said...

I can't believe you wrote an entire post on pimento cheese, and yet my lifelong burning question was never answered.....what the heck is a pimento?

In fact, I think it was my first question I asked Vance when I flew up to Minneapolis the first time to see him. It was that important to me.

Foiled again, I guess... :)


Rachel said...

Sorry, I'm southern, and I can't stand the stuff! Yuck! : ) And, yes, the Northerners have something called Pimento Loaf and yes, it's equally as nasty! : )
If you like it though, enjoy! : )

The Hoodies said...

I have to agree with Rachel. I am Southern, but I HATE pimento cheese. You can have my share ;-)