Coast Cooking

Coast Cooking: Pimento and cheese myth vs. fact

Pimento and cheese is a Southern food tradition that has deep roots, right? Wasn't pimento and cheese invented in the South around the time of the Civil war?

Certainly no other part of the country has had a love affair with this simple combination, right?

It pains me to admit it, but all of the above are false statements. 

Pimento and cheese is a recipe that first surfaced around the turn of the century in New York City, of all places. But I have to give Southerners credit for picking up a dropped ball and making something out of it. 

Pimento and cheese lost its following in the North and was re-started in the South after the Second World War. 

No matter its origins, it is a wonderful recipe that is incredibly versatile. Grilled pimento and cheese sandwich, top a burger with it, add a scoop to fried green tomatoes. See what I mean? This is a good thing!


2 cups shredded white cheddar cheese (the yellow kind is OK too)

2 red bell peppers

2/3 cup homemade mayonnaise

1 chopped jalapeño pepper

Freshly ground black pepper and salt

Roast the peppers over a gas flame or under the broiler until blackened. Place in a paper sack for 10 minutes. Toss the sack and remove the blackened skins under running water. Beak open and remove the seeds. Combine all of the ingredients, taste and season as necessary. Also consider adding chopped celery for crunch, and hot sauce for heat.