As the title of this blog results from a misunderstanding between myself and my friends from the North, I thought it appropriate to put together a guide for those friends to educate them on the nuances of the South. This is the first in what should be a series of posts on the topic.
Last Labor Day, I had the opportunity to spend the weekend with a group of friends at a beach house outside of Wilmington, NC. In addition to my wife and I, this group included friends from Kentucky, Texas, Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey. Now, I know what you are thinking. Why would any self-respecting Southerner admit to hanging out with anyone from New York or Pennsylvania, much less New Jersey? I mean, it is one thing to be courteous in passing, but to actually plan a weekend, and then admit it? That may be crossing the line. In their defense, these friends are not fans of Jersey Shore, so I guess they are all right.
For lunch one day we visited a local restaurant and ordered an appetizer of pimento cheese dip. When it arrived, my New Jersey friend pointed at it, looked at me and said, “What is that?” Well, up until that point I just assumed that everyone knew what pimento cheese was, but you know what assuming does.
In its basic form, pimento cheese is shredded or grated cheddar cheese mixed with mayonnaise (preferably Duke’s brand), black pepper, and diced pimentos (small, red, peppers). Many people try to dress it up by adding fancy styles of cheese, pickles, garlic, cream cheese, or some other spice, but to me the basic version is the best. At our lunch we had it as an appetizer, but in my mind pimento cheese should always be on a sandwich, preferably on white Sunbeam bread, and perhaps with barbecue flavored chips. Served with lemonade or sweet tea, it makes a great warm-weather snack or lunch. Pimento cheese sandwiches, cut into small triangles and with the crust removed, have been a staple at church gatherings in the South for generations, right there with pigs-in-a-blanket and meatballs. More recently, pimento cheese has begun to creep onto menus across the south, as everything from an appetizer to a topping on a burger.
If you have never tried pimento cheese, it should definitely be on your to-do list before you can call yourself a Southerner. Until next time…
Basic recipe (mix all of the following):
1 pound grated/shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup mayonnaise (Duke’s preferred)
1 small jar pimentos, drained
salt and pepper to taste
Whatever additions suit your fancy