Thursday, May 7, 2015

Can't Get Enough Pimento Cheese

Sometimes my mom would bring home a small jar of pimento cheese for us. The pimento cheese of my childhood was cream cheese, with pimentos added.
I loved it, having no idea what the real deal was. 

When I moved to NC fifteen years ago, I saw three brands in the grocery store, and tried 'em all. Shmeared over crackers, they became my favorite snack. And then summer came, and I could make sandwiches with fresh tomato and lettuce, my, oh my. 

I was completely satisfied--until I ate somebody's homemade version at a church potluck. (One of the best things to ever come out of a covered dish supper!)

Too lazy to make my own from scratch I made do with mass produced tubs of a sorry imitation.

Last winter I discovered Red Clay's incomparable Hickory Smoked Cheddar.
It's real shredded cheese with a subtle smoky flavor. I actually gave it as hostess gifts at Christmas, because who wouldn't want to eat it? It's available at a few locations in Winston Salem, but not here in Surry County.

Out exploring in a neighboring county we came across an Amish grocery store and I zeroed in on this. Conrad & Hinkle, bless their hearts, make it with real cheese, and homemade mayo. It's soft and mild, but distinctive. So smooth going down that I ate eight ounces in just a few days. To mute my conscience I saved calories by spreading it on my fresh lettuce.

Google pimento cheese and you'll find an NPR piece, reviews for foodies, recipes, and even a Master's Degree thesis, "It Was There for Work: History of Pimento Cheese in the Carolina Piedmont" by Emily Elizabeth Wallace.

Anybody else out there a p.c. devotee? I think I'll start a pimento cheese of the month club. Does anyone have a favorite recipe or ready-made brand they want to nominate? 

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