I call it RV Pimento Cheese. I got the recipe during an adventure-and-mishap-filled trip to New Orleans.
It started, as many great adventures in my life do, over drinks at a dinner party.
“Hey, why don’t y’all come with us?” our friend T.C. said after describing his upcoming RV trip.
Next thing we knew we were sleeping in our “bed” on top of the kitchen table in a rest stop in Who the Hell Knows Where, Alabama, under the flickering lights of a disco ball. Things just got weirder from there.
We didn’t really think T.C. was serious when he issued the original beer-induced invitation. When he called us later in the week with instructions on where to meet we realized it was happening – we were headed in an RV to New Orleans for Jazz Fest with our friends T.C. and Laura, and his friends, Simms and Carolyn, owners of the RV.
It was our first RV trip and unsure what to get as a hostess present, we decided on a small disco ball to hang from the ceiling of their RV. We figured they didn’t have one. We were right and it added a festive air to our trip. I also made brownies, which came in handy later.
We met at our friends’ house and while waiting for Simms and Carolyn to arrive Laura decided to dye her hair – a task more easily accomplished at her home than in a moving vehicle.
Around 8 p.m. we headed out from Atlanta down I-85. I quickly learned to love the comfort of zipping down the highway in a giant house on wheels. We sipped on adult beverages and snacked on Carolyn’s delicious pimento cheese.
Such freedom! You can walk around, stretch your legs and even go to the bathroom – such joy!
At some point Simms decided to stop at a rest area for the night where we learned the kitchen table would be made into our bed. It wasn’t too bad and we slept okay, rising early to hit the road again.
Things were proceeding smoothly as we made our way closer to the city. I loved looking at the water as we crossed over the 24-mile-long Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, the longest continuous bridge over water in the world.
But as soon as we got off the bridge and spotted the sign for New Orleans it happened. The RV broke down for the first time. Apparently, they are fond of this activity and engage in it frequently.
While the men got out and worked on changing the tire, the women sat on the couch and made ourselves useful by eating brownies.
As anyone who has been to New Orleans knows, calorie counting is forbidden within these city limits where butter-and-cream-based sauces are liberally applied to all food groups.
Red Panties on the Shower Curtain
After the tire was fixed and as we were making our way towards the city, our friend Charles called. He’s the manager of the band The Blind Boys of Alabama and said a Japanese film crew was not able to make it to the festival. Would we like a free hotel room for three nights in the French Quarter?
He hadn’t finished the invitation before Chris eagerly accepted. While we loved being with our friends there was little doubt when it came to a contest between bed v. kitchen table the bed would win. They dropped us off at the hotel where we made plans to meet up later.
The room was nice and we just laughed when I looked in the bathroom mirror and saw a pair of red panties hanging on the shower curtain behind me. While I may have felt slightly repulsed at such a discovery in any other city, this is New Orleans, where you need to expect the unexpected. We knew just what to do with them.
As is traditional, T.C. carries a huge totem pole at Jazz Fest so others could spot him in the crowd. These colorful poles can include any items of your choice and we would be giving him an additional one to add. He enthusiastically accepted our offer of the lacy red panties and added them to his pole.
We spent the next few days listening to music at Jazz Fest and in clubs until the wee hours, dancing at Rock n Bowl and eating muffalettas and fried seafood.
The Annual Watermelon Sacrifice
One day we were lucky enough to see the annual sacrifice of a watermelon. A group of friends walked in front of the stage and begin to walk in a tighter and tighter circle chanting “Watermelon, watermelon, red to the rind, if you don’t believe it, pull down the blinds. We sell it to the rich, we sell it to the poor, we sell it to the woman standing in that door.”
They then proceed to do rather unusual things with an innocent and unsuspecting watermelon before throwing in the air and watching it explode into red-and-green pieces upon landing.
They’re Throwing Quarters at Us!
New Orleans is the only place on the planet where I wake up and think about having a Bloody Mary. Our last morning was no exception so we walked down a block to a no-name bar for one last drink before it was time for our friends to pick us up. The bar was dark and we noticed a few tipsy people at a table nearby.
We paid for our drinks and when we noticed we only had a few dollars in cash between us, added to the tip by leaving some quarters too. After heading outside to walk back to our hotel we heard something clanging around us on the sidewalk.
It seems the drunk people took offense to us leaving change for a tip and decided to express their disapproval by throwing it at us.
Following our long-held policy of not engaging with drunk strangers, we hurried back to our hotel.
Just then we heard a beep and turned around to see the giant RV headed down the narrow street to pick us up. Just as the RV passed by the two drunk guys, they picked up the staggering girl and turned her upside down. Her shirt fell to her neck and her breasts were exposed.
The event was not lost on the guys in the RV, who managed to grab a camera and take a video.
It seemed a fitting farewell to the Big Easy.
I’m Learning to Play the Ukuelele
We all gathered in the RV for the long ride home, tired and slightly buzzed from a New Orleans-strength Bloody Mary. I breathed a sign of relief after we made it safely over the causeway. But then the RV began overheating and Simms pulled over.
As we sat in the RV on the shoulder of I-10 waiting for it to cool down, Simms grabbed a ukulele. “I’m teaching myself how to play it,” he said. He strummed for a while until enough time had passed for him to start the RV up again and slowly merge the giant vehicle back on the highway.
We hadn’t gotten very far before it overheated again. And again, he pulled off the side of the road, grabbed his ukulele and played. After repeating this pattern a few more times while we mentally calculated how many days it would take us to get back home, he decided we needed to find a place to repair it.
The guys unhooked the car that was being towed, got in it and went to find an open repair shop. We sat and waited in the newly quiet RV.
It was Sunday and after finding no shops open, Simms decided he would stay with the RV that night while the rest of us hopped in the car with our luggage and drove home.
Now whenever I make this pimento cheese recipe I think of our RV trip to New Orleans where Carolyn served it and generously shared the recipe.
RV Pimento Cheese
1 can Rotel green tomatoes and chilies, hot or mild, your choice, drained
1 small jar pimientos, drained
1 pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Mayo to taste
Mix all ingredients and refrigerate. That’s how easy it is.
Do not be tempted to take the easy route and buy grated cheese from the grocery store. It is coated in a kind of powder and you won’t get the creamy texture. It’s worth the effort to grate your own.
In the South we’re loyal to our brands of mayonnaise and I’m a Duke’s girl, but I use it very sparingly. Add as much as you want into the bowl. I use Tillamook sharp cheddar cheese.
Serve with saltines, or that food of the gods, Fritos. Best eaten in or within proximity of an RV, but any place will do. I put it in the refrigerator where it keeps for a few weeks. I take it out about an hour prior to eating so it spreads easier.
Here’s another recipe, a copycat of The Masters Pimento Cheese served at the annual golf tournament in August, Georgia.
– Jan Schroder, Editor-in-chief
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