NIGHT TRAIN TO NASHVILLE: Lakeside Pimento Cheese

While Southern fried chicken is the most frequently mentioned food in Night Train to Nashville, which  takes readers behind the scenes of one of music’s greatest untold stories, my grandmother Christine never used a recipe. And even if she had, the chicken would not turn out as hers did because she used a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. Instead, I’d like to share her recipe for pimento cheese. My grandmother didn’t measure the ingredients for it either, but my mother watched and made notes.

In the book’s epilogue, I quote a letter from Jimmy Ward to Gab. Jimmy also wrote a letter to Christine, which included these lines:

“Mary Jane and I were remembering all the fun we had with you and Blackie. Christmas parties, water skiing picnics on top of the narrows of the Harpeth [River]…lugging all that food up there… the pimento cheese sandwiches.” 

I too have fond memories of my grandmother’s pimento cheese sandwiches. During the hot, humid summers spent at her home on Old Hickory Lake,  beginning at age five, I ate the same thing for lunch every day: pimento cheese on white bread with corn chips and a four-ounce glass of ice-cold beer! Summertime perfection.

Yes, she served me 3/2 beer, a brew with reduced alcohol content. Christine’s parents were Swiss/German, and before prohibition, her father owned a popular tavern in downtown Nashville. She grew up drinking beer as a child and thought that children who learn to drink early learn to drink responsibly. I don’t know if that’s true, but I have been called a “perfect drinker” because I drink only white wine watered down with club soda and lots of ice. It’s a refreshing beverage with an alcohol content similar to the 3/2 beer I drank as a child.

To this day, I can’t think of a more delicious lunch on a hot, humid summer day than a creamy pimento cheese sandwich and a refreshing low alcohol content ice cold beverage.

-Paula Blackman

Author note and book giveaway




3-4 servings

Prep Time

10 mins

Cook Time


NIGHT TRAIN TO NASHVILLE: Lakeside Pimento Cheese

Most Southerners use Duke’ mayonnaise, but Christine preferred Hellman’s.

  • 16 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, hand shredded
  • 4 ounces diced pimentos, rinsed and drained
  • ¾ cup Hellman’s Mayonnaise (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  1. Place all ingredients in a medium bowl and stir until well combined. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least one hour.