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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My Pimento Project

Oh hello, Spring; it’s nice to see you.  It’s been a while since you’ve come around.  Much like many girls I know, warm weather was fashionably late this year.  While it is still nowhere near hot, I have finally shed the tights and am now walking around bare-legged, much to the displeasure of passers-by who are exposed to my pasty legs. 

My legs were ready for Spring yesterday and so was my palate.  No more hearty stews and root vegetables!  It finally felt like Spring and I wanted something light.  Seafood seemed to fit the bill perfectly so I found a recipe for shrimp and okra salad.  Shrimp, spicy pickled okra, red onion, pimento and lime juice were lightly tossed with mayo and served on top of avocado slices and suddenly shrimp salad was much more appealing than the ones I typically pass over at picnics.  Since I was buying a big jar of pimento for the shrimp dish, I decided to put it to good use by making my own pimento cheese.

Pimento cheese is everywhere you look in the South.  Go to any grocery store or 7-11 and you can find vats of the glutinous stuff for about $1.  Up here in NYC, however, it’s a little harder to find.  Sure, nouveau-Southern food is in vogue right now and plenty of famous New York chefs are making it with fancy cheese and adding it to their menus with a gourmet pricetag.  For us true Southerners, pimento cheese is no gimmick or passing fad, it’s a tried-and-true staple of our diet because it’s good and cheap.    When I finally managed to find packaged pimento cheese at Whole Foods, it was dang tasty.  It was also $6 and only two sandwiches worth.  Screw that; I’ll just make it from scratch.  It wasn’t difficult to grate some cheese and mix it with pimento, mayo, and special seasonings, and it was certainly cheaper than any pimento cheese I’ve seen in New York.  It was also very tasty. 

After nearly four years in the North, I have come to realize that I will never be a Yankee.  I have hit a hurdle of homesickness and my solution is to take matters into my own hands and make sure my Southern roots are ever-present.  So, when there’s no Country on the radio, I’ll download it on my iPod and if pimento cheese isn’t prevalent, I’ll just make it myself.  After all, my Grandma used to always call me “Miss I-can-do-it-myself”.  Slightly embarrassing, but I might as well exploit the quality and make myself a little Southern haven in the Upper East Side, where the fridge is always stocked with pimento cheese.


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