Monday, August 22, 2005

Speaking of Pimientos

I have an embarassing passion. It is for something called pimiento cheese. Northerners are not familiar with this amazing concoction from down south, but having vacationed in North Carolina every summer since I was 11 and deeply loving all things southern, I was exposed to it at an early age and have come to love its zesty cheesey goodness. It is basically a mixture of cheese, mayonaise, and pimientoes, mixed to a spread. Every grocery store down south offers at least 3 different varieties and often a homemade store brand. It is offered at delis, as appetizers at upscale restaurants, and as a burger topping at most burger places. Every southern mother has her own recipe and the best combination is always a source of controversy. Pimiento cheese sandwhiches are the peanut butter and jelly of the south. I try to eat it only once a year, when we go on vacation. It is soooo good on an everything bagel. Or simply spread on toast as a sandwhich is divine. But this year I couln't contain myself and decided to make my own. There is a variation on pimiento cheese sold at grocery stores in Central PA, but it is pretty unpalatable. Through an internet search I found the winning entry in the Southern Foodways Alliance Pimento Cheese Invitational 2003 (I swear to God). It was the best ever. New York Extra Sharp and Vermont sharp white mixed with 2/3 cup mayonaise, 7 oz. pimientos (I don't drain), a dash of cayenne pepper, a dash of hot sauce, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. The cheese must be grated and the mixture is best if it is left in the refrigerator overnight to allow the flavors to combine. Mmmmmm. I recently read a review of a restaurant called Rib in New York City. And the cosmopolitan reviewer singled out pimiento cheese (served as an appetizer with sesame crackers) as one of the best things on the menu. I felt a little less embarassed about my passion.


Anonymous sue said...

I have eaten hordes of pimiento cheese ever since I was a kid.
My mother stuffed celery with it for Thanksgiving, and for that matter, every holiday as though it were a rare delicacy.
I now by mine at the Lemoyne farmers market from the cheese guy in the back of the building.
Now I do the same for my family, just ask Pete, its become a staple.
Pete's mom

3:09 PM  
Blogger meresy_g said...

Was your mom a southerner? Come to think of it my great gradmother used to make pimento cheese. Is the farmers market kind good with lots of pimientoes? The stuff I bought on vacation was diappointing. They used cheap cheese and it didn't have much flavor.

2:44 PM  
Anonymous pete's mom said...

My mother is from Jersey City, NJ. No southern roots for our clan...and, our brand of pimento cheese was generic, right off the shelf of a local grocer.
The Lemoyne farmers mkt brand of cheese is too whipped up for my taste, I like to see and taste the actual pimento, I will try your recipe one of these days...
I enjoy your blog, keep it up!

10:33 AM  
Blogger meresy_g said...

Thanks "Pete's Mom". This is pretty fun. The pimiento cheese I make is chunky, I use the cheese grater, although it calls for a meat grinder...those old fashioned ones that clamp onto the edge of the counter. I have one and maybe will try that sometime. But the grater works okay.

1:08 PM  

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