I have never had real pimento cheese before. Because the fake pimento cheese was really Cheez Wiz. In a jar. With pimentos. Growing up pimentos were short-hand for nasty crap. Olives had pimentos. Chicken a la King had pimentos. Pimento loaf is bologna studded with pimento-stuffed olives. Nasty crap. As kids, my siblings and I, weren't exactly knocking back martinis with stuffed olives.
Chicken a la King, despite it's regal name, is actually chicken breasts smothered in mushroom sauce with pimentos over a bed of white rice. It's bland chicken with bland mushroom sauce, on plain white rice. Instead of adding an extra kick with the pickled spiciness of the pimentos, the pimentos actually made the dish horrible to my childhood taste buds. Ruined it. Destroyed it. Like, kill it, burn it, bury it in the backyard; destroyed it. I no longer cared for anything with pimentos.
One day a friend at work had some pimento cheese at the office and offered some to me. She knew I liked to try all kinds of food. We were the only two ladies in the offices to go A&W or Arby's together for lunch. Occasionally we would get a salad but usually we just wanted to eat well. I don't mean healthy, I mean just a full meal whether it was Italian, salad, breadsticks, and pasta. Or barbeque, chopped beef, two sides and a roll. Previously she had brought in Trader Joe's cookie butter to the office and I ate that stuff straight up. So when she brought by real pimento cheese from Central Market, I took a sideways glance and went, "mm-yeah, okay.".
This stuff was legit. Cold and creamy. You could tell it was real grated cheddar cheese held barely together with mayo or some other binding. I could also see the pimento peppers and some dill. It hadn't occurred to me that you could eat it cold like potato salad. Those jars of Cheez Whiz weren't refrigerated. And I liked it as an alternative to grilled cheese which sometimes were a complete failure whenever I made them because I would use cheddar and not a melting cheese. The grilled cheddar would start sweating oil but not so with pimento cheese. You could use cheddar and use it right. And because it's cheese I am now mildly obsessed. Those pimentos peppers be damned.
'Til next time!