Pimento cheese paradise
Published 10:37 am Friday, February 23, 2018
Pimento cheese paradise
Many thanks for the warm welcome of the new editor. The service club visits have been terrific, and there seems to be a general excitement about The Panolian, and the direction we hope to head.
For certain, part of the nice welcome stems from different folks and groups wanting to secure their good standing with the paper and that’s just fine. Naturally, people want to have the news they believe to be most beneficial printed first.
One person, though, took it to another level, and has earned herself a spot at the top of the editor’s goodwill list. What was this grand gift? What brought such joy, when found on my desk? My favorite – homemade pimento cheese.
Some foods are almost as good from the store as from home, but pimento cheese is not one of them.
I’m sure both Mrs. Stratton and Mrs. Weaver were fine Christian ladies who could, no doubt, construct a superb pimento cheese in their day. Unfortunately, the machines that produce the foul product associated with their names now, should be torn down and hauled to the scrap yard.
I’ve eaten homemade pimento cheese all over the South, from churches to country clubs, and have enjoyed some delicious varieties.
Before this week, there were two pimento cheese experiences, that stuck out above all the others, though. First was the version made by a sweet lady that I went to church with in Clarksdale as a child.
She was also one of my early Sunday School teachers, and was sort of the head of the fellowship hall committee (a most important role in the Baptist Church.)
Actually, Mrs. Joyce was more like the sergeant of the fellowship hall, and was strict about us kids staying out. Her pimento cheese was superb. Too young to be aware of what ingredients she used, us kids just knew that her pimento cheese was delicious and far above the packaged stuff we usually got at home.
I ate Mrs. Joyce’s pimento cheese many, many times at church fellowships and other occasions, and each bite was a delight. Sadly, Mrs. Joyce had a heart attack while teaching a kindergarten class nine years ago this month. Despite valiant efforts by several Panola County first responders, Mrs. Joyce died that morning in her classroom. I still think of her often and miss her kind spirit.
I went without good pimento cheese for several years before, remarkably, I met another Mrs. Joyce whose pimento cheese was almost the same as the first Mrs. Joyce. Oh, happy day.
Again, it was at church fellowship when I first had the second Mrs. Joyce’s serving. It was delicious from the first bite, and I was thrilled to have found a new favorite pimento. (Lots of good comes from going to church.)
When I fell ill in 2015 Mrs. Joyce was one of the first ones to visit, bringing with her the delectable dish I have loved so long. During the darkest hours of my chemo treatments, when very few foods were palatable, I could always manage a few bites of Mrs. Joyce’s pimento cheese with crackers.
Alas, Mrs. Joyce recently moved with her husband to a retirement village in North Carolina. We miss them much at the church, and I’m especially grieved the first Sunday night of the month when we have fellowship supper at Bethany.
There’s always a fine spread laid before us, but it no longer has Mrs. Joyce’s pimento. And, so, once again I was left without good pimento cheese in my life. Having lost two Mrs. Joyce’s, I had very little hope of finding another.
Still, I searched. And I searched. But, no pimento cheese could rise to the level of the ones my two Mrs. Joyce’s had served. I had begun to think the bar had been set to high – a mark that was simply out of reach.
And then, comes Mrs. Debbie to my office with an offering of pimento cheese and Ritz crackers. I politely accepted, but was prepared to be disappointed one again.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. She’s not named Joyce, but I have found one more source for heavenly, Southern-made pimento cheese. At my age and condition, this could be my last great pimento cheese connection – They are just too few and far between.
For now, though, I’m in pimento paradise. Her version is creamy, uses plenty of different cheese (mostly sharp) and has a healthy dose of celery salt. All the other stuff I’m not sure about, and know better than to ask. Surely, pimento cheese this good comes from a well-guarded family secret.
Some may be thinking that the poor editor just doesn’t know the right people. Maybe I could have been enjoying super pimento cheese all along, while searching for the next Mrs. Joyce.
If so, I apologize, and will from today be accepting entries of pimento cheese from anyone who believes theirs is better than Mrs. Joyce (1or 2) or Mrs. Debbie’s.
I hope to ride this Mrs. Debbie connection for a while, but it wouldn’t hurt to have some backup ready if anything changes.