You can serve pimiento cheese out of a cut crystal bowl, alongside flutes of the finest Champagne, with your best linen cocktail napkins, but please don’t fancy up the crackers. This world-famous spread might be known as the “pâté of the South”, but at heart, pimiento cheese is a humble delicacy made of simple ingredients: mayonnaise, grated cheese, and jarred pimientos. It is best savored on regular old Saltines.
Yes, Saltines. Not water crackers, not rustic, whole-wheat flatbreads sprinkled with herbs and flaky salt, not buttery Club crackers, not pita chips. Saltines are neutral in flavor without tasting like cardboard. They are just salty enough to enhance the pimiento cheese. And they have a crispy, but not too sturdy texture that’s just right for spreading or scooping. (You can also use them to make Fire Crackers, but that’s another thing altogether.) Whether you like your pimiento cheese extra spicy oor mild, smooth or chunky, classic or with copious amounts of stir-ins, a sleeve (or two) of Saltines will be the perfect accompaniment. You will need nothing more. Maybe some celery sticks.
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Think of the tomato sandwich, that other beloved Southern food icon. It is simply tomatoes and mayonnaise with a little salt and black pepper, sandwiched between two slices of white bread—regular old, soft, squishy, nutritionally devoid white bread. Sure, you could make a tomato sandwich with a baguette, or a potato roll, or artisanal whole-grain bread from the farmers’ market, but it won’t be as good. The tomato is the star of this sandwich and you want bread that won’t get in the way of that. Just like Saltines and pimiento cheese.