Category Archives: kentucky

pimento cheese, please

Oh, sweet baby Jesus. A combined longing for Kentucky summer and Facebook request for a recipe has made me crave pimento cheese something fierce. So much so that I scrapped plans for the rosemary-lemon grilled chicken that we had already started to cook and sent my better half to to the store for some extra-sharp cheddar, celery, and a loaf of white sandwich bread (Though I will countenance a Saltine here. A Triscuit would be acceptable, as long as it is not reduced fat. Same dealio for a Ritz.) It’s pimiento cheese, ladies and gentlemen. It has the caloric density of Devon cream, and it is goooooood.

Miss Verba’s Pimiento Cheese

Recipe adapted from Frank Stitt’s Southern Table

1/4 lb. softened cream cheese

1 teaspoon white pepper (I use black pepper with no problems, here)

1/2 c. mayonnaise

1 teaspoon sugar

Few splashes hot sauce (I like Crystal, rather than Tabasco)

dash cayenne pepper (optional)

1 lb. sharp cheddar, grated

3 large seeded, roasted, peeled, and chopped red peppers (I used a jar of roasted red peppers from Trader Joe’s)

Blend together first 6 ingredients (I used a hand mixer, but a spoon would work) until thoroughly combined. Fold in cheese and red peppers.


Eat with lightly toasted white bread, celery sticks, and a glass of sweet tea on the porch while watching fireflies.

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drinks in bars

I know, I know. But this is SO VERY TRUE.

I speak from years of experience waiting tables at a dive-y bar, which were full of exchanges like the following:

What can I get you?

Do you have any specials?


Well, what’s a good shot then?

[Jesus.] I don’t know. A Kamikaze? A Jagerbomb? [A punch in the face?]

Hmmmm. How much is a Miller Light?


How much is an Amstel Light?


What kind of vodka do you have?


The usual…Ketel, Absolut, Grey Goose, Belvedere….

Hmm. What are you guys getting?


Okay, let me get a well vodka with a splash of cranberry and a splash of grapefruit.

So, a Sea Breeze?

Oh, it has a name?

Yeah, that’s its name. That it? [turning to leave]

On second thought.


Can I get an Irish coffee?


Yeah, that sounds good.

Sure, fine. I just have to go brew some coffee.

Oh, do you have decaf?


Yeah, sure. [Lies, all lies]

Okay, great.

[Puts in order, makes coffee, finds the ONE FLAGON-LIKE GLASS we keep for Irish coffee, tops said disgusting abomination of a bar beverage with whipped cream that has been sitting in the beer cooler for 2 months. Ugh. Serves drink.]

Okay, that’s $5.50.


Um, yeah.

Wow, that’s expensive.

Well, I don’t set the prices.

Okay, here’s six. Keep the change.

Great, thanks. [Resolves never to return to this table again.]

Oh, miss?



Could you wipe this table off? It’s kind of sticky?

[OH. MY. GOD. If you want customer service, go to fucking Applebee’s.]

Fine, sure.*

When the bartenders would leave me alone** so they could get food or smoke a bowl or walk their dogs or what have you, I instituted my own set of completely arbitrary rules, namely: I will make you a cocktail, provided it contains exactly two things, i.e. gin+tonic, vodka+cran, rum+coke. No “splash of this” or any of that bullshit. Or you can have a beer that comes in a bottle. Or a Coke. Those are your options.

*This may have been exaggerated for comedic effect. But not much.

**Granted, never during a rush, because I can’t actually pour a draft beer. Or open a bottle of wine. Or properly gauge the amount of booze that goes into a standard cocktail. No wonder I never got promoted. Hmmm.

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the southern states from afar

Incredibly amped to watch Rich Hall’s program for BBC4 on the American South — which seems particularly apropos in light of the 50th anniversary of To Kill a Mockingbird. Both because he’s from the region and is more apt to sympathetic to its not-usually-very-favorable-representation-elsewhere, and because it will likely go into much more depth than similar kinds of fare that only flits over huge swathes of geographical territory in an attempt to make some kind of sweeping generalization utterly lacking in content.*

Hall contends that one Hollywood movie above all others has cemented our perception of Southerners as a bunch of deranged hicks: Deliverance. John Boorman’s searing 1972 picture about a group of city slickers on a rural white-water-rafting weekend who are ambushed and raped by a family of deadly, banjo- and shotgun-wielding yokels has imprinted itself on our minds as the authorised version of the South.

‘Because it’s so powerful,’ Hall says, ‘Deliverance has created this image of the toothless, small-town, inbred hill-billy that has stuck. When you start doing that banjo music, even kids who have never seen the film know what you’re talking about. That banjo riff has become shorthand for an entire region!’

Precisely. Every region, every country, every place has its yokels and freaks. I need only direct you to the terrifying white-power enclave that is Eastern Washington/Oregon, where folks consider themselves the “Real Confederacy.” (I don’t know what that means, either. But unlike many of the arguments about the Confederate flag, which often masquerade as ‘heritage’ or ‘history,’ this is about race, pure and simple).

Once, in Spokane, or as I now refer to it, scrub-brush-Devil-country, we stopped at a Perkins, where, in the smoking section, one booth away from us, was a guy who had three swastikas etched into his forehead. Like Vivian from The Young Ones, but less discreet. He sat there, snarling, with a cloud of flies encircling his head like some kind of mad insect entourage. (I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP.)

I appreciate the effort at rehabilitation because it strikes me that Southerners are one of the last marginal groups that it’s okay to mock and ridicule. It’s why I make sure to intersperse my speech in high-falutin’ situations with y’all and all y’all** as much as possible, and why I contemplated spending a whole quarter at the University of Chicago talking like Julie from the first season of The Real World just to see what would happen and how differently people would treat me.

Wonderful that Mr. Hall has a dedicated following on the other side of the pond. I treasured his Sniglets books as a child. Example: Ufluation (yu flu ay’ shun) – n. The peculiar habit, when searching for a snack, of constantly returning to the refrigerator in hopes that something new will have materialized.***

*For which see: Stephen Fry in America. Just too much material to cover in too little time, it ends up looking like a crack-a-loon highlights reel of our shattered society swizzled together with some broad-brush strokes about the states and their inhabitants. And I am pretty much on board with anything Mr. Fry takes on, but this series did nothing for me. John Barrowman did a similar “road trip across America” for Children in Need, not that I’ve watched it. Because: why?

**This is the grammatically correct plural form of y’all. Really.

***Otherwise known as “How I spend the majority of my time, if you include the pantry in this definition.”

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lexington, stop making an ass of yourself, NOW

Oh my God. This is so appalling. I actually feel physically ill.  Funny that when I was visiting Lexington I heard nothing about it.

From Greg Skilling at the Louisville Examiner:

In the age of Twitter news travels fast. So when I heard that there were people at the Lexington July 4th Festival selling t-shirts with the slogan, “Yup, I’m a racist” emblazoned on the front, I just had to see for myself. So I jumped in the car with my trusty video camera in hand, and drove down to the festival. It was not long before I found what I was searching for.

You can read the full article here, and a bit more here from FailShirt.

On the front it says “Yup, I’m A Racist” and on the back it lists the reasons why:

1. I Support the Constitution,
2. Freedom of Speech
3. Right to Bear Arms
4. Bill of Rights
5. Capitalism
6. No Government Bailouts
7. Closing The Borders
8. The military
9. The Tea Party
10. Jesus Christ as our Savior

I mean, I support the Bill of Rights and Free Speech too, and I’m (hopefully) not a racist.* How IN THE HELL are those things related? Like, it’s okay to be a proud racist because of some cantankerous American sense of fucking moral entitlement? The hell?

Excuse me while I kick a doorframe, scream into a pillow, and curse my home state.** Kentucky, I expect a whole fucking lot better of you. I’ve already got to explain Mitch McConnell and KFC to the world.*** Help me out here.

Okay, blood pressure decreasing. Clooney is suave, adorable, gravelly-voiced, drunk off his ass, and charming, Kentucky. We are supposed  to be CHARMING like Clooney. Hop to it.

*Unless I have missed a very important memo.

**I mean, this kind of disgusting moral piggybacking bullshit happens everywhere, but I would be less ashamed if it happened somewhere gross that I already feel negatively about. Like, say, Arizona.

***Thank goodness for Clooney. That should be our STATE MOTTO.