Harvey column: Enjoying flavors of Salisbury
There is something about returning home as a visitor that makes you keenly aware of what makes the place special. I have this feeling of deep affection and nostalgia for Salisbury now that leads to moments where I want to reflect on what hasn’t changed at all and, perhaps more importantly, what has.
Last week, I had one of these moments driving down the road with my parents. I caught a glimpse of what used to be the Carousel restaurant. Like I always do, I said, “I’m so sad the Carousel isn’t there anymore.”
Then, I added, “I can’t believe I wasted all that time not eating their grilled pimento cheese, and now I will never have it again.”
My parents found this humorous since I am a healthy eater, and something comprised of mainly cheese and butter is generally not on the top of my food list.
This ridiculously delicious grilled pimento cheese, however, was totally worth the saturated fat. It didn’t have too much mayonnaise, but, at the same time, lacked that too-strong cheese flavor that a lot of pimento cheeses have.
As grilled sandwiches go, it knew what it was and owned the title. A real grilled sandwich is on regular, bought from the grocery store bread, smashed thin and heated all the way through. Many of these so-called “grilled” sandwiches today are on this thick, fancy bread that is definitely not Merita and most certainly not smashed down properly. As a result, the pimento cheese never gets heated all the way through, so you are left with a sandwich that is cold in the middle, more akin to toasted than grilled, and altogether not worth the butter.
In short, this was a very special sandwich, and I only wish that I had eaten it when it was available because now I will never taste its particular brand of goodness again.
What my pimento cheese disaster has taught me is that I absolutely must seize the moment because we do not know what is going to happen tomorrow, or when, without warning, one of our favorite restaurants will close.
Therefore, that very next day, I waited in line, in the rain, with the rest of the town for a Hap’s cheeseburger all-the-way with ketchup and a Cheerwine. (Isn’t there just something life-changing about that bold, bubbly, cherry flavor in a frosty glass bottle?)
My husband was so excited to see me with chili running down my arm that he insisted we get Hap’s every time we are in Salisbury from now on. He says it’s because “a little red meat every now and then” is good for me, but I know it’s because he loves those juicy, grilled-to-perfection hot dogs and hamburgers as much as I do.
You could say they are his Carousel grilled pimento cheese sandwich.
I have willingly agreed to his request to eat more Hap’s. I have learned my lesson now and have decided that a big, thick hamburger, on white bread no less, every now and then will not imminently kill me.
Clearly, this is a silly example of not taking the good things in life for granted, but you have to reflect on these moments when you can. True love comes in all shapes and sizes and should be duly noted and appreciated wherever it is found ó even if your true love is a sandwich.
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Former Salisbury resident Kristy Woodson Harvey lives in Greenville.