hey, y’all, the best pimento cheese is right here! ::::
The woman, snugly stuffed next to the window, began to overflow into my seat. Body habitus obviously over-conditioned nutritionally, she sagged into my forearm (my arm not on the arm rest, mind you) and I thought: Euhhhh, this is going to be a tight trip. I began to smell the salty, dank odor or nervous sweating. Whether it was her concern that she would not be able to exit her seat ever again, a dip in blood glucose brought on by a whopping dose of insulin pre-boarding as she noisily and moistly chewed her CinnaBon, or just air travel jitters, I will never know. We never spoke. After a brief discussion with the flight attendant, she also a little thick in her middle and edges, my seat-neighbor got up — pop!— and heaved her rotund bottom and moist midriff into two seats two rows behind me. I mopped up the sweat dribbles on my armrest and settled into a quiet trip.
Large seat mates are not unexpected on air travel these days, especially as the seats seem to get smaller and more tightly packed. However, finding the ultimate pimento cheese recipe is prodigious. In the airline magazine. (Not the damp one on the seat next to me, the dry one.) They actually publish recipes in those things, not just Hollywood-themed crossword puzzles and Sudoku.
Back home, away from nervous sweating and larger ladies, I made that wonderful pimento cheese recipe from my complimentary airline magazine. It was excellent on crackers. On toast. On pita chips. Even on tortilla chips. I so carefully filed that recipe away, peeking at it occasionally to make sure I still knew where it was. Even after two big moves, one across the country, I still could locate my special recipe at a moment’s notice. Then when I really wanted the recipe, it was gone.
Blame it on my jest of “organizing” my recipes. In my haste and seemingly ordered fashion of cataloging my life into three-ring binders and Excel files, I think I threw it out. I even remember the title: Puh-leeze pass the cheese (yes, spelled exactly like that). Little choice did I have but to consult a cookbook instead. The internet. Something other than a silly airline mag. What I found was Emily Wallace’s brief history of pimento cheese at the Indy Week website. Not only is there a brief history in her writing but also an 80 page thesis on pimento cheese for a master’s degree in Folklore. Now that sounds like some good reading on a long flight to the Carolinas.
Her grandmother’s adapted recipe resides on South Carolina’s homepage (“The State“), and is simple, without all the extras (onions and spices, who needs ’em!). Simplicity works here. No need for all the extra layers of flavor. For me the pimento flavor layers nicely with the sharp cheddar. Emily Wallace’s recipe called for less mayo but I doubled it to have a softer spread. The pimento cheese I ate in Georgia years ago was moist and spreadable, as was the recipe I remember from the airline magazine. Off to find that thesis and arrange a flight to Charlotte….without a sweaty seat-mate.
- ½ pound sharp cheddar, hand grated*
- 2 ounces pimentos, diced
- 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- Stir all ingredients together. To soften cheese, allow to sit in refrigerator for at least 4 hours before using.
- Serve with crackers or to be authentically Southern, with white bread, crusts removed. Store in refrigerator; keeps for a few days.