Southern Comfort Food and How My Tastes Have Changed: The Pimento Cheese Files

06 Feb

Pimento cheese.

Until yesterday, I had no idea that pimento cheese was predominately a Southern comfort food.

Making pimento cheese isn’t difficult. You need salt, pepper, a little mayonnaise, pimentos, and the cheese of your choice. You blend it altogether, according to taste, and voila, there you have it.

Pimento cheese can also be purchased at the store.

The unfortunate thing is that, when I was a child, I loved pimento cheese, but now, I do not.

I made a pimento cheese sandwich yesterday and attempted to make it even better by mixing it with some more ingredients. Each idea failed and made it all taste worse, and the sandwich I did eat made me sick to my stomach.

Even writing this blog at the moment, I worry about recommending anyone try pimento cheese sandwiches, because they’re cruel and terrible.

Then again, I was eating the pimento cheese on processed bread (hint, hint, Gigi), and so maybe the bread was what turned my stomach instead.

So, I definitely don’t recommend store-bought pimento cheese. It’s revolting.

Plus, I’d rather make pimento cheese using something like monterey jack and swiss so that it would be extra tangy instead of whatever Mrs. Stratton uses.

Mrs. Stratton’s brand foods are full of disappointment. When we were kids, we ate the Mrs. Stratton’s pizza. There is no comparison between a Mrs. Stratton’s pizza and any other brand of frozen pizza, much less made-to-order pizzas at restaurants.

Despite that, at the moment, I’m incredibly hungry and am starving for a Mrs. Stratton’s brand frozen pizza.

I don’t know who taught her and her family to cook, but it certainly wasn’t anyone in the South, and she needs to move over and let someone who can do the heavy-duty cooking take over.

Back to the pimento cheese. Trying to make Mrs. Stratton’s pimento cheese taste good is like trying to convince a nation that’s already been bombed with nuclear arms that war might not be the answer.

Adding the tomato relish to it did not help.

Remember when I discussed how the lemon poppy-seed muffins duked it out in my mouth?

This was worse.

One bite in, and the the sandwich magically slipped out of my hand and fell into the garbage can. I figured I would indulge in some Buddhist non-attachment on this issue and allow the sandwich to do as it pleased instead of worrying about having wasted food.

Of course, I can hear my father’s voice now, “Son, you don’t need to waste that thar food, thar’s folk’s that’s starvin’.”

Yes, Bapaw, dear, there are folks who are starving, and those starving folks are lucky enough not to have the taste in their mouths that I did.

Considering what I had put in my mouth, I don’t know if a starving person could eat it and survive. So in reality, the starving person not eating that disgusting sandwich I made actually saved their lives, because otherwise they would have been unable to cope with the pure vileness on their tongue. So think of that, Bapaw- by trashing the sandwich, I saved someone’s life.

Thus, I’m a hero.

And I win.

Anyway, if you’ve never had a pimento cheese sandwich, I suggest you at least try it. However, you’ll do better to try other Southern comfort foods before this one.

Wait until I make my macaroni and cheese and present it on here. I love macaroni and cheese, and that’s a comfort food if ever there was one. Macaroni and cheese is like my favorite food, I think.

Also, my friend Drew’s amazing bread is going to be up soon, so stay tuned.



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14 responses to “Southern Comfort Food and How My Tastes Have Changed: The Pimento Cheese Files

  1. Doc

    February 6, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    I, too, had no idea that pimento cheese was/is a southern comfort food. Last time I had it, though, I enjoyed it! I am not familiar with Mrs Stratton or her work – perhaps it’s a regional thing? Meanwhile, I prefer my pimento cheese spread on whole wheat – maybe that’s the answer? I have also seen it filling the groove of celery sticks on relish trays for years. I do not enjoy raw celery, but scooping it out of the groove and onto Melba toast was no trouble and quite rewarding.

    • enamouredslave

      February 6, 2011 at 5:59 pm

      Right, Doc. Pimento cheese does go above and beyond mere sandwiches, and maybe I should try it again in said dishes.

      I think it might go especially well on Melba-toast.

  2. The Onyx Plate

    February 6, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    Mrs. Stratton sounds like a prude. 🙂 I’m serious though, I love Pimento Cheese. It was always something Maw-Maw would make homemade when I was growing up. Last year, with the homegrown Pimentos, it was nice to make our own Pimento Cheese with fresh peppers. Also, the green olive and chopped pecan addition is amazing. You should try it next time you make the Pimento Cheese (if you do). Needless to say, the simpler you keep it with Pimento Cheese the better it is. You really have to be picky with what you put with cheese, not much can balance out with the richness of a good cheese.

    • enamouredslave

      February 6, 2011 at 5:59 pm

      Well, the homemade variety does sound better, and I think I could make a good pimento cheese without using mayonnaise. I think that was the real issue I had. The mayonnaise taste just stood out in it, and it was far, far too rich.

  3. gigi

    February 6, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    I love to make pimento cheese but the last time I made it you didn’t like it either, if I remember correctly… But I agree, homemade pimento cheese is like nothing else and it is so easy to make. The hardest thing is grating the cheese and getting it to the right consistency…I have never heard of making it with any thing except mayo so that should be interesting when you decide to do your mayo-free p. cheese.. Can’t wait to try it…Any container bought food – potato salad, p. cheese, etc. is always an abomination to the taste buds, but sometimes in a pinch I do purchase p.cheese. I never plan to buy any of the other salads by any Mrs. or even Mr.

    • enamouredslave

      February 6, 2011 at 7:20 pm

      The blame is largely falling on the mayonnaise. Mayonnaise and cheese together are too terribly rich, I think, and there’s a kind of conflict between the flavors that I keep mentioning in the blog. I can’t really think of how to explain it; a comparison could be to salting something and then adding garlic salt in addition to the already salted food. There’s just too much of it. The same holds true for mayonnaise and cheese together.

      Miracle whip might be a suitable alternative, because it’s sweeter and lighter than mayonnaise.

  4. gigi

    February 6, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    Well try it your way… I personally do Not like mayo, but if I have to use it and sometimes I have to, I only want Hellman’s – the other brands – yuck…

    • enamouredslave

      February 6, 2011 at 8:58 pm

      Honestly, I’m all-around afraid to try it at the moment.

      Just thinking about that pimento cheese makes me sick to my stomach.

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  6. Project Van

    February 7, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    i didnt know that either! actually…what are pimentos?

    • enamouredslave

      February 7, 2011 at 10:58 pm

      Apparently a type of pepper, from what I’ve read. Perhaps there’s a blog in order for this?

  7. Mr. Haney

    February 10, 2011 at 7:18 am

    Pimento cheese ROCKS! I make a couple of batches a month using a recipe that took me a decade to perfect, and my kitchen is now a rallying place for neighbors who know there’s probably going to be some in the fridge. (I avoid Hellmann’s mayo, since it’s now mostly water. Duke’s to the rescue!)

  8. Mr. Haney

    February 10, 2011 at 7:21 am

    Footnote: While “pimento” is a Spanish word for pepper, pimento as refer to them are made from the super-sweet cherry pepper, the same pepper that’s used to make paprika.

    • enamouredslave

      February 10, 2011 at 1:59 pm

      Seriously? I didn’t know that! Thanks for the education!

      I’m glad you like pimento cheese; I’m going to make the effort to create my own, and hopefully my own variety of pimento cheese will not be a terrible failure. Maybe it’s not pimento cheese that’s horrible but the brand in question. I plan to find out.


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