My Way, or Picture Post-Apocalyptic Wasteland Here

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When I was a kid, we lived in the South for a while at various times. And as any human who has been to some type of group eat situation (anything from a baby shower, funeral lunch, bridge game, to anything, really) in the Southeast of this great nation, I was around pimento cheese.

My experience was tiny, crustless (read fancy and ladylike) triangles. The thinnest of orange bands running horizontally between two slices of spongy bread, which sported the arresting white of a televangelist’s shoes.

What did they taste like?

No idea, because my mother, who bless her heart, has a quite limited palate, said it was gross so as a child I never tried it.

When The Kid was little, I once said, “Go ahead, but you won’t like it,” to a proffered sample in a market called Wellspring.

After hearing what I had said translated on the employee’s face, I vowed to never color a new food for The Kid with my opinion. From then on, I said, “Give it a try, you never know; it might be your new favorite food!”

OK, Gentle Reader, enough of proselytizing of my all-wise parenting techniques, back to the main sermon: pimento cheese!

Now that pimento cheese has become trendy, the North has claimed its invention.

Here’s what I say to a bunch of jumped-up, beard-wearing, bow-tie-sporting, penny farthing riding “foodies” from Brooklyn, New York:

Sure, Champ, sure you did.

Here’s the singular irrefutable evidence that proves this desperate grasping attempt at culinary thievery a lie:

Apologist of this theory claim the “dip” (alarm bells should start when they begin by calling it “dip” and not “spread” as it rightfully is) came about when pimentos were mixed into a newly developed farmer’s cheese, or as it’s known today: cream cheese.

Yup, and Aunt Bea made some banging pickles.

If you use or permit cream cheese in the pimento cheese you serve or consume, I’m sorry, sir, but you are no true Southerner.

You are a misinformed, ignorant Northerner, or a tragically, culinarily neglected Southerner.

Here’s the skinny; cream cheese, while delicious and a wonderful binder for all types of inventions, should never, ever, be in pimento cheese.

Period.

Cream cheese is a cheat that detracts, rather than adds to both the flavor and texture of authentic pimento cheese spread.

I do however have my own theory concerning farmer’s cheese contributing to the invention of it.

I think it was originally made with sharp, a little less oily, a little more aged, hoop cheese. Really good pimento cheese should be sharp enough to make your eyes water. Aged hoop cheddar is the perfect flavor and texture. Or, if you can’t lay your hands on that, cheddar that is so aged it has begun forming tiny crystals within.

Once you’ve made the real thing, I have no problems with cheesing outside the box. I’m not here to judge, so if you want to add some hot chili-type of product or pile on the cayenne, have fun (as long as heat, otherwise known as heightened Scoville units are consensual with your diners). You want to add toasted pecans or put it in an omelet, be my guest.

I say this because I just did something to it that I’ve never had, nor seen before.

I mixed pimento cheese with egg salad.

I know, on the surface it sounds odd, but in practice, it’s awesome!

This hybrid is silky, light, and really good. The mayonnaise/pimento binder mixes with the egg yolks and becomes almost mousse-like. The pimento and inherent funk of the cheese erases any eggy, sulfuric taint — in flavor and aroma. And if you use a medium-boiled egg, the bright yellow orange is a pretty highlight in the finished product.

Thanks for your time.

Contact me at dm@bullcity.mom.

Classic Pimento Cheese

(Inspired by recipe in Garden and Gun Magazine)

½ cup mayonnaise

1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimentos, lightly drained

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Cayenne pepper (totally optional)

1 ½ cups lightly packed coarsely shredded extra-sharp yellow cheddar cheese

1 ½ cups lightly packed coarsely shredded extra-sharp aged white cheddar cheese

In a medium bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, pimentos, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, and cayenne together. Fold in the cheeses with a rubber spatula to thoroughly combine. Transfer to a container, cover, and refrigerate for a few hours before serving to allow the flavors to meld. Before eating, check for seasoning, re-season if necessary, and serve. Use within 1 week.

Pimento Cheese Egg Salad

Gently mix in four roughly chopped, medium boiled eggs. Add a bit a mayonnaise if seems too tight. Serve on anything on which you’d serve egg salad or pimento cheese.

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