I love Augusta National. I really do. I’ve been there scores of times, beginning when I was 10 years old, and extending into gray-haired senior-club-championship status.
My first bestselling book was entitled Augusta: Home of the Masters Tournament. I grew up in Georgia and spent countless hours in the R.T. Jones library and spent one night in the R.T. Jones hospital (both named after Bobby Jones’ grandfather). And, like most rabid lovers of the game, I keep track of every rumor coming out of the club and the tournament.
So, you’ll pardon me if I roll my eyes when, every year, interlopers rave about pimento cheese sandwiches and chocolate milk as if it’s the culinary equivalent of winning a green jacket.
Come on, folks. Pimento cheese on white bread is what Southern mothers fed us when they couldn’t afford baloney. Only recently has it been dubbed the “Caviar of the South.” For decades, it was what college freshman in Athens, Tuscaloosa and Oxford kept in their dorm refrigerators to eat with Saltine crackers when they ran out of money on their meal cards.
Oh, sure, it’s good. In fact, fried green tomatoes, pimento cheese and bacon on sourdough is about as rich a Southern treat as you’ll find.
But you don’t have to go to Augusta the first full week of April to get it. The other 51 weeks your local market has pimento cheese, usually in several brands and varieties. There’s jalapeno pimento cheese, Louisiana pimento cheese, South Carolina pimento cheese and, my personal favorite, Pawley’s Island Pimento Cheese, “The Pimento Cheese with Soul.”
As for chocolate milk, you can get that at every 7/11 in the country.
Augusta National does plenty of great things, not the least of which was the Drive, Chip & Putt last Sunday. The prices of the concessions are insanely cheap by modern sports standards and the golf course is, as Frank Deford once described it, “like falling through a magnolia hole into golf Wonderland.”
But let’s not go gaga about the pimento cheese.
You want something to really whet your appetite, try this when you get home:
Pimento Cheese Stuffed Fried Chicken
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon of black pepper
½ cup of milk
2 cups of breadcrumbs
1½ cups of Pimento Cheese (jalapeno if you’re a spice lover)
Whisk the milk and egg
Sprinkle the pepper on the chicken
Dip the chicken in the milk and egg mix and then cover with the breadcrumbs
Fill a cast-iron skillet 1/8 full of oil and heat. Fry the chicken for about 10 minutes
Move the chicken to a cutting board and slice in one side of the breast
Spoon in the pimento cheese
Bake at 350-degrees for about 3 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
Enjoy the food and The Masters.