Pimento cheese is the food that most reminds me of my childhood.

My mother was not what I would describe as an “avid homemaker” by any stretch of anyone’s imagination.  She had two kids, a full time job (with overtime when she could get it), and while she certainly appreciated a clean house and dinner on the table before dark, that was as far as it went for her.

[LISTEN: State Legal Cannabis Employment, Is It Right For You? – PODCAST EPISODE]

When my brother and I were too young to be trusted alone, we were definitely not left alone, especially not overnight.  Frankly I think that when my mother died two years ago, she was still of the opinion that my brother and I probably should be trusted alone, at least not in her house.  Nothing personal, she would tell you, she just liked her things her way.

I also spent a lot of time with my grandparents, at least while my grandmother was alive, although she died while I was still in elementary school; after that my grandfather came to visit us more frequently since it was easier for him to travel alone than for us to get all packed up and go to his house, nor did my mother drive on the ‘highway’ if she could avoid it.

One thing that was in every refrigerator was pimento cheese.

Pimento cheese is one of those foods that you either love or you hate; there’s really no middle ground.  It’s the quintessential southern spread, and while there are those who eat it on crackers, or possibly even use it in a grilled cheese (obviously not Southern in that case), or who maybe even put lettuce and tomato on it (my local deli is now featuring a ‘gourmet’ version here in Phoenix, just make it stop), the real way to eat a pimento cheese sandwich is just to put it between two slices of white bread.

[READ: Net Neutrality and the War on American Web Content – BLOG ARTICLE]

That’s right, white bread.  I will grant you that you can use thick sliced, country style; I’m partial to that, myself.  When I was a kid, we were not a Wonder Bread family, we ate Merita, in the yellow bag with the red label, since my mother firmly believed that it “stood up” better to most of the ingredients in our sandwiches.

You know, stuff like pimento cheese, peanut butter, jelly, tomatoes, mayonnaise, and the like – all things that could cause the bread to go soggy fast.  It also cost at least a third less than Wonder Bread did, so I’m sure that factored into my mother’s likes and dislikes, with the possible exception of Breyer’s Butter Pecan ice cream, which was prized at any price, on sale or not.

Why are we talking pimento cheese?

Good question, Sherlock.  I was flipping through my email newsletters this morning, and there was not one, but two actual references to pimento cheese sandwiches.  It’s this Masters thing, you know.

If you aren’t familiar with the Masters, here’s the quick primer – it’s a golf tournament, held each year in the spring, at the famed Augusta National Golf Course, in Augusta GA.  And one of the most cherished, most popular, most eaten menu items at the Masters is the $1.50 pimento cheese sandwich.

Ha!  That’s right, I bet you had no freaking idea that you could actually buy a food item at a major sports event for one dollar and fifty cents!  Better still, it’s good.  People love them.  But every so often, the club changes catering services and people go nuts when the recipe for the pimento cheese sandwiches gets a reboot and the new recipe gets cursed for all its worth by the regulars who want their pimento cheese sandwiches in the green bags.

I can’t tell you how many articles have been written about the pimento cheese sandwiches at the Masters over the past ten years, it’s a lot.  The one I got this morning is from Garden & Gun, which has very little to do with either of those things.

I’m also going to admit to ‘borrowing’ the amazing pic of a perfectly made white bread and pimento cheese sandwich from EatWisconsinCheese.com – it was just too incredibly beautiful to resist.  I am not a fan of their recipe, however, since cream cheese has NO PLACE in pimento cheese.

And last but not least, I’m going to leave you with one of my own Pimento Cheese recipes.  I spent countless hours perfecting it some years ago, mostly because nothing I could find in California was at all like what I remembered, and then when I was visiting NC, that stuff in the plastic tub was as relative to my memories as Kraft in the box is to real mac and cheese.

I have a second recipe, but you’re not getting that one.  Strangely enough, the Cracker Barrel brand cheese really works well since it stands up to the mayonnaise and the peppers without going soggy.

 

Pimento Cheese

December ’09

1 block Cracker Barrel white Vermont, coarse grate

3/4 block Cracker Barrel sharp yellow Cheddar, coarse grate

1 green onion thinly sliced, white and green parts

1.5 small jars Dromedary chopped pimentos

1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice

1 T Worcestershire sauce

1/2 to 3/4 c Duke’s mayonnaise

Mix all ingredients except the mayonnaise together and combine well.  Add mayonnaise in 2T increments until the desired consistency is achieved.

 

If you’re not interested in making a sandwich, I would suggest adding an additional 2T of mayonnaise to the mix, and serving on Captain’s Wafers – you know, the ones in the green package, I think Lance makes them.