Cue the “Mission: Impossible” music.
“Your mission, Mr. Lendon, should you accept it, is to attend one of the world’s foremost sporting events and eat from the concessions all day for under $15.”
This is crazy, I say to myself. Can’t be done. For the 2014 Super Bowl, a single "premium canned beer" was $14 (making bottled beer seem like a relative bargain at $14), a soda $6. At a regular season L.A. Dodgers game, all-you-can-eat pavilion seating starts at $30 and goes up from there.
And this is the annual Masters Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club, the best of the best for golf. Nevertheless, I set off on my mission.
Mission log follows.
0910 hours: In the gates of Augusta National and heading up the first fairway. Map shows concessions back by Hole No. 3.
0920 hours: Stand sighted. No lines. And breakfast served until 1000 hours. I move in.
0921 hours: I’ve secured a chicken biscuit and a coffee. Cost, $1.50 for the biscuit, $1 for the java. But now I have to eat it.
0928 hours: Consumed. Ravenously. The biscuit was good sized, seemed a bit bigger than Chick-fil-A. The biscuit itself is good, not too doughy. The chicken still juicy despite spending time in the foil bag. Coffee is hot, dark and strong. I usually drink it black, but I need two half-and-halfs on this one. Guy next to meet at the condiment bar says he should’ve asked for half coffee, half hot water.
0930-1230 hours: Watching golf’s best knock it around. I’ve had tougher assignments.
1232 hours: Lunch. Down near the end of Hole No. 10. I’ve been told when at the Masters the pimento cheese sandwich is a must. I’ve never had one, but orders are orders. And the $1.50 price tag fits the parameters of the mission. I add on the Masters kettle-cooked potato chips, $1, and a light blue concoction labeled “sport drink,” $1.50. Wanted the Diet Coke, but figured I should avoid any more caffeine in the hot sun. Total hit: $4.
1234 hours: The concession area is crowded, but a nice couple from Houston offers me a spot at their table. They’ve earned my trust so I confide my mission to them – they express amazement that I live in Atlanta and have never had pimento cheese before. But they assure me I’ll like it.
1236 hours: First bite. Hmmm. I chew slowly. The woman senses my trepidation. “You’ll love it by the end,” she says. “It gets better as it goes along.”
1240 hours: The lady is right. Yummy! The couple from Houston has moved on, so I share my excitement with three guys from Omaha who’ve replaced them. They find my assignment amusing, but they doubt my chances for success. “I just spent $8 for two egg salad sandwiches and this beer,” one says. My point exactly. And his math is off. Even if he got the import beer, at $3.75, he’d have only spent $6.75 as the egg salad sandwiches are $1.50 each.
1440 hours: Watching the Par 3 tournament and stomach rumbling. Must make a move. I’m thinking white chocolate, macadamia nut cookie, just like the one I thought about tacking on to lunch.
1443 hours: In line.
1445 hours: Served. And thrown a curveball. (Sorry to mix sports metaphors. I’m time pressed.) No cookies on the Par 3 course. And no beer either. Curious, that. I get the Snickers bar as the commercials say they really satisfy.
1447 hours: Snickers really does satisfy. Especially at $1.
1450-1529 hours: Par 3 action, including watching three of the game’s greats, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. Watching Palmer makes me want one of those half lemonade, half ice tea drinks. Thanks for coming up with that one, Arnie.
1530 hours: Thunderstorms rolling in to Augusta. Play is stopped and the course is cleared.
1620 hours: Play is canceled for the day and the course closes all concessions. I’ll need to tap other resources to complete my three-meal mission.
1621 hours: I check the concession price board. I can get the same things in the press area, which is still open. And they are the same. I go with the ham and cheese on rye, $2.50, the $1 kettle chips again (I really do like those) and a domestic beer., $3. Assessment: Nods to the Houston couple. The ham and cheese was not as good and the pimento cheese, really kind of bland and the bread was mushy. Maybe it was sitting in the cooler too long. Glad I had the beer to wash it down.
1638 hours: Mission complete. Total cost for three meals and a snack: $14. Which should also look good on the expense account.
From the Eatocracy editors:
In 2011, heartbreak briefly ensued at the Masters Tournament when a power outage at the golf club's production center temporarily interrupted the availability of pimento cheese sandwiches to hungry fans.
Augusta.com reports that severe thunderstorms were the cause of the power loss and that at least one patron was pretty cheesed off at the lack of sandwiches.
Reed Clevenger of Cary, North Carolina, attended the tournament with a friend and told the publication "We were in disbelief when we walked in and heard there were no sandwiches...We told (our sons) even if you don't like it, you have to try the pimento cheese at least once."
Mr. Reed reportedly tracked down the sandwiches at the single concession stand that was selling them, and power was restored throughout the club on Tuesday.
Since many Southerners vehemently disagree as to its platonic makeup (levels of spice, cheese blend, consistency and additions such as onion and pickles are all hotly debated), Eatocracy presents several variations.
Makes about 3/4 gallon
Combine cheeses, mayonnaise, pickle juice and Tabasco in food processor and pulse until combined. Stir in the rest of the ingredients. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
From Eatocracy commenter C.K. Leverett
Pimento Cheese Spread
1 lb. Velveeta or similar cheese product, shredded
Our managing editor prefers this recipe from NPR's Wright Bryan, spiked with an extra splash of pickle juice. Share your favorite formulations and pimento cheese musings in the comments below. The post originally ran in 2012, and we've updated it with all the freshest pimento cheese news and a few recipes.