Pimento Cheese


Growing up, I hated mayonnaise and I hated cheese. Strange for a kid, yes, but the cheese-hatred had some basis: my dad hated it, so we never had it in the house. And I became so conditioned to hating cheese, it took me years (and a cheese-loving boyfriend) to get over it. As for the mayo, that was entirely my own thing: nothing repulsed me more. The gummy, gooey whiteness mortified me; nothing could ruin a sandwich faster than spreading mayo on it first. I could abide it in coleslaw and tuna salad because I didn’t see it go in, but a turkey sandwich with gloppy mayo on top? To this day, I’d say “no.” So imagine how repulsed I’d be if, as a wee lass, you’d presented me with a Southern delicacy known as “pimento cheese”–cheddar cheese mixed with mayo and chopped up pimentos. I might’ve, to use an elegant verb from my childhood, hurled.

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Edna Lewis

If you don’t know who Edna Lewis is, take the next 20 minutes to watch “Fried Chicken & Sweet Potato Pie,” a fantastic documentary directed by Bailey Barash on Gourmet.com (click here) about Ms. Lewis, her life and her beautiful friendship with Atlanta Chef Scott Peacock. Many of you might remember my visit to Watershed in Atlanta last year, but this is the story behind it. I can’t recommend it enough.