The South's Signature Sandwich

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This is a sandwich that's been high on my list of late. It's sort of that all-around, all-good-things-in-one, seemingly simple sandwich that would be hard not to love unless you don't like pimento cheese or don't eat bacon.

It's a simple sandwich, really--a whole lot of our pimento cheese, along with a couple slices of Arkansas Peppered bacon, grilled on the Bakehouse's Brewhouse Bread (made with beer from Michigan Brewing).

The cheese isn't really fully melted--just soft--so it sort of gushes out the sides a bit when you eat the sandwich, but what's wrong with that? As long as you can handle licking your fingers a bit to get 'em cleaned up while you're eating, you're going to be good shape.

Down South, pimento cheese is a culinary icon--but up here, it's almost probably less familiar to most folks than Pad Thai.

Smoky, slightly spicy Arkansas peppered bacon slices (to quote Rick when we were tasting this together not too long ago: ""Damn, I could eat this bacon all day!") set against the softer, creamier, still slightly spicy richness of the pimento cheese.

I realize in writing that, although it really has become super popular for us at the deli, the likelihood is that most customers in this part of the country, the Midwest, still have no clue as to what pimento cheese actually is.

Down South it's a culinary icon akin to chopped liver for New York Jews or chocolate to Parisians--but up here, it's almost probably less familiar to most folks than Pad Thai. In either case, it's a spread, not something you slice. Everyone's got their own, usually held close to the heart, recipe.

If you don't know it, ours starts with cheddar from Grafton Village in Vermont, enhanced and creamed up with a good bit of Hellman's mayonnaise and roasted red peppers (aka "pimentos"). Mail Order's been shipping a fair bit of it so if you've considered sending a good gift to someone you know who's from the South but doesn't live there anymore, or just someone who likes cheese and likes spicy stuff, this is a good way to go.

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Ari Weinzweig is co-founder of Zingerman's Community of Businesses, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He is also the author of Zingerman's Guide to Good Eating. More

After graduating from University of Michigan with a degree in Russian history, Ari Weinzweig went to work washing dishes in a local restaurant and soon discovered that he loved the food business. Along with his partner Paul Saginaw, Ari started Zingerman's Delicatessen in 1982 with a $20,000 bank loan, a staff of two, a small selection of great-tasting specialty foods, and a relatively short sandwich menu. Today, Zingerman's is a community of businesses that employs over 500 people and includes a bakery, creamery, sit-down restaurant, training company, coffee roaster, and mail order service. Ari is the author of the best-selling Zingerman's Guide to Good Eating and the forthcoming Zingerman's Guide to Better Bacon.
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