cheese spread

How to Make the Perfect Southern Sandwich
by Joan Leotta

At our weekly lunches,
my Georgia-born
neighbor, Faye, introduced
little Pennsylvania me
to her “perfect sandwich,”
bread spread with a
mix of cheddar, roasted red peppers
(pimento) and Southern charm.
I begged for the secret to the
orange-red spread I had never
tried before eating it with Faye,
what she told me was called
“pimento cheese.”
At last, one afternoon, she invited
me into her kitchen
to demonstrate how,
when blended with Duke’s mayo,
canned pimento punctuates
shredded white cheddar
with a vinegary spike.
“Duke’s blends it all,”
Faye whispered. “Duke’s is
the secret, the kiss of the South.”
We mashed the ingredients
together with a fork.
Then she smothered white bread
slices with a knife-full of gold,
deftly trimmed off crusts
and with one swift stroke,
divided the sandwich
into triangles, one each.
“So, Northern Girl, what do you
think?” she asked. I replied,
“I think I’m buying a jar of Duke’s.
These sandwiches are perfection.”

PHOTO: Still from youtube video How It’s Done: South Carolina Pimento Cheese by Discover South Carolina, All Rights Reserved. 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I first tasted Pimento Cheese at the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, Georgia, at the site’s snack bar with my friend Faye, and then at the Indigo Inn in Charleston, South Carolina. Like any recipe that’s made in many families, there are numerous versions across the South. Some folks add cream cheese to make the mixture more spreadable. (If using cream cheese in the recipe below, use 3-4 ounces room-temperature cream cheese). Some families add cayenne pepper and/or Worcestershire sauce. I like it plain. I use white sharp cheddar because I like the color to come from the pimento only. You can also use sharp yellow cheddar.

cheese pamela mcadams licensed

Joan’s Pimento Cheese (with a nod to the Indigo Inn in Charleston, South Carolina)
Ingredients
1 cup freshly grated extra-sharp white cheddar cheese (do not buy pre-grated).
2 ounces pimento peppers, well drained and chopped
3 tablespoons to ½ cup Duke’s Mayonnaise
Dash of cayenne pepper
Method
Stir and stir until the ingredients are well blended. Refrigerate. Lasts one week.

Photo by Pamela McAdams, used by permission. 

JOAN L

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Leotta, a Pittsburgh girl now living in North Carolina, plays with words on page, stage, and in the kitchen where she balances Southern Italian cooking with American Southern. Her poems, essays, and stories have appeared in Silver Birch Press, Potato Soup Journal, Sasse, Highland Park Poetry, Verse Virtual and Visual Verse and others. Her chapbook, Languid Lusciousness with Lemon is available from Finishing Line Press.