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Pimento Cheese Memories & A Recipe Request

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Pimento Cheese Memories & A Recipe Request

Jennie Sheeks | Nov 18, 2002 01:50 PM

I miss my grandmother. Actually, she was my Mom’s stepmother, and we called her Mama D. Mama D. was the epitome of the Southern grand dame. She could trace her lineage back to those who signed the Mayflower Compact and even further to Charlemagne. As a young woman, she traveled the world, visiting Africa and Europe. She manipulated and charmed so gently that everyone held her with the utmost affection, amusement and respect.

She didn’t cook, and always had housekeepers who took care of that. Hilariously, I have her diploma from a 2-year ladies college, where she completed a program in Home Economics. But she loved a good meal.

We developed a fondness for one another simply because I took the time to travel from California to Tennessee for the express purpose of visiting her. I’d sit on the end of her bed as we ate breakfast and we’d talk about politics, religion, family, love, food, music, history, you name it. Even in her 90’s, very little got past her.

Her caregivers would always stock the fridge with special foods in anticipation of my visit. In this case “special” meant anything, like salad or fresh vegetables or coffee that Mama D. wouldn’t eat on account of her “delicate stomach”. A regular fixture in this fridge was Pimento Cheese from the Kroger deli case. For the uninitiated, from what I can discern, Pimento Cheese (pronounced "puhmenuh cheeeyse") is a mixture of processed cheese, cheddar cheese and pimentos. The seasoning varies and is a source of much debate, disagreement and secrecy. Spread on bread or Wheat Thins, accompanied by a glass of iced tea, this was the perfect slighly trashy but uniquely Southern afternoon snack. From what I can remember in conversations with my grandmother’s caregivers, homemade Pimento Cheese is far superior to the stuff at Kroger.

Mama D’s fridge was not my first encounter with this unique Southern delicacy. In my teens, my Mother’s ex-husband Jim (who was responsible for introducing Mama D to my grandfather) spent Christmas with us one year so that he and Mom wouldn’t argue over where their daughters (my half-sisters) spent Christmas. Strange I know, but Mom’s Southern, which explains a lot. Anyway, Jim insisted it wasn’t Christmas without Pimento Cheese, and so he made the most enormous batch of this stuff. We were still eating off it at Valentine’s Day.

Well, Mama D. died two years ago last August, and I’d give anything to be sitting in her condo once again, chatting and eating pimento cheese sandwiches. There’s no Kroger nearby, and I know the local grocery stores don’t carry the stuff. Mom doesn’t make it, and her ex-husband just recently passed away and took his recipe to the grave with him apparently. Anyway I think I'd like to make a batch over the holidays. So, if you’ve got a good pimento cheese recipe that you’d like to pass along, I’d be grateful.

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