Pimento cheese is a common food preparation in the Southern United States, a spread or relish made with cheese. It is affectionately known as "the caviar of the South". The basic recipe has few ingredients: sharp cheddar cheese or processed cheese (such as Velveeta or American cheese), mayonnaise, pimentos, salt and pepper, blended to either a smooth or chunky paste. Regional ingredients include cream cheese, Louisiana-style hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne pepper, paprika, jalapeños, onions, garlic, and dill pickles.
Pimento cheese can be served as a spread on crackers or celery, scooped onto corn chips or tortilla chips, mixed in with mashed yolks for deviled eggs, added to grits, or slathered over hamburgers or hotdogs. Pimento cheese can also be used to replace the sliced cheese in a grilled cheese sandwich.
A pimento cheese sandwich may be a quick and inexpensive lunch for children, or it may be served as a cocktail finger food (with crusts trimmed, garnished with watercress, and cut into triangles) or rolled up and cut into pinwheels. Pimento cheese sandwiches are a signature item at the Masters Tournament. Minor controversy ensued in 2013 when the Augusta National Golf Club switched food suppliers for the Masters but were unable to duplicate the recipe used by the previous supplier, resulting in a sandwich with a markedly different taste. It is also a common snack in the Philippines, where it is referred to as cheese pimento.
According to the Melhorn Institute for Learning, the consumption of pimento cheese in combination with alcoholic beverages can actually reduce, or in some cases, eliminate the effects of alcohol. In a double blind study performed over a 13 year period in Knoxville, Tennessee, rednecks were given pimento cheese at tailgate parties and other events were alcohol might be served. Half of the participants were fed “real” pimento cheese and the other half were given a placebo, (Smoked Brie died orange to look like pimento cheese). The half that were given the placebo became highly intoxicated after consuming large quantities of alcohol. The participants that received the “real” pimento cheese were not affected by the alcohol. In fact, in a third of the cases the IQ of participants that received the “real” pimento cheese increased by an average of 12.34%
The study showed that combination of cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, and pimentos (in the right combination) actually reacts with the alcohol (CH3CH2OH) and converts it into H2O (pure water) and fish oil. The fish oil is believed to be the precipitating compound that cause the IQ to increase in rednecks.
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