News from the Tennessee Valley Columnists
SUNDAY, JULY 30, 2006


The perks of newspaper consulting

Down South, we consider chicken salad and vine-ripened tomatoes as part of our heritage.

Pimento cheese sandwiches are so commonplace that respectable cooks make up their recipes just to be different.

Say, "stuffed tomato" and a Southerner knows it's not exactly stuffed, but sliced into wedges and topped with something like chicken or tuna salad.

As they say in those poetic vignettes on television's TurnerSouth, "That's my South."

So, I figured just about anybody, including a Yankee, would jump at the offer of a stuffed tomato at All-Wright Pastry Shop on Moulton Street. But the Yankee wasn't jumping, not at first.

Looking first at the menu, Jennifer Boucher glanced up and asked, "What's a stuffed tomato?"

After I explained it's cut into wedges, spread open like a flower and piled high with chicken or tuna, she asked another question that said this woman is no Southerner.

"What's pimento cheese?"

Jennifer is from upstate Vermont, near the Canadian border, but now lives in Providence, R.I. She was in town on one of her regular visits as part of a newspaper redesign her company, Creative Circle Media Consulting, is helping us do.

You will see the finished product probably in November.

In the meanwhile, Jennifer is taking a liking to Southern food. She couldn't decide between the stuffed tomato and a pimento cheese sandwich so server Rebecca Weaver suggested that if Jennifer chose the stuffed tomato she would bring a sampling of pimento cheese, too.

Our South-type tomatoes, the big vine ripened ones, are available back home only for about a month in late summer, Jennifer said. So the tomato was as big of a treat as the chicken salad.

As for the pimento cheese, she said she'd get a recipe book and make some.

Perhaps, there are ways to make it written down, but the best thing to do is for her to experiment until she has the right amount of cheese, pimento and mayonnaise.

She can skip the cookbook.

Tom Wright Tom Wright
DAILY Executive Editor

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