95. Cheese Straws–For Eating, Not Drinking

20 Apr

Following the time-honored Southern tradition of misnaming things, these tasty, cheesy morsels somehow got labeled “straws.” You can’t sip a beverage through them. You would not use them as bedding for farm animals. And it would be nigh impossible to weave a basket out of them. Still, we call them “straws.” I reckon it sounds better than “kind of like an elongated cracker, but with a different texture, plus cheese.”

Even in the South, spotting cheese straws in the wild is an unusual (and therefore delightful) occurrence. I think folks are scared off by the high-priced tins of cheese straws offered by purveyors of Southern delicacies. Sure, they’re tasty, but I’d rather spend my hard-earned 20 bucks on something more substantial. Chocolate, for instance.

I’ve heard that cheese straws were the hit of the cocktail party circuit back in the day, but I never ran across any, seeing as Baptists don’t invite folks over for drinks all that often.

I think your best chance of finding a batch of cheese straws is to get yourself invited to a Southern girl’s bridal or baby shower. As an added bonus, you’re likely to happen upon a platter of piggies and the almost as rare but far more delicious Southern delicacy, petit fours.

The only time I’ve seen cheese straws north of the Mason Dixon was at an ad agency I worked for in Southern California. Someone brought a tin of them back from a vacation in the South. Oh wait, that was me, so I guess it doesn’t count. Note: The whole tin was devoured in record time.

I’ve only made cheese straws a few times, always for showers and always in Mississippi. Seeing as they’re not at all difficult to make, I really should whip up a batch soon and introduce them to my Yankee friends. I will probably use Homesick Texan’s recipe. Any of y’all planning a cocktail party?

If you’re at all curious about the history of cheese straws, check out Hoppin’ John’s well-researched post.

Photo Credits: Homemade cheese straws by Chez Loulou, Flickr Creative Commons; store-bought cheese straws available at The Everyday Gourmet.

20 Responses to “95. Cheese Straws–For Eating, Not Drinking”

  1. Rufus' Food and Spirit Guide April 20, 2011 at 3:37 pm #

    I’m a transplant to the South and got a huge kick out of this post. The cocktail party line… seeing them in SoCal. Hilarious.

    • Kim Holloway April 25, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

      Thanks! So glad you liked it!

  2. littlecackles April 20, 2011 at 7:32 pm #

    I have never, not once, had a cheese straw.

    • ssanderson April 21, 2011 at 1:54 am #

      A really good homemade cheesestraw is to die for! It should practically melt in your mouth…

    • Kim Holloway April 25, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

      I highly recommend them, unless you’re lactose/gluten intolerant.

  3. Jennie April 21, 2011 at 3:31 am #

    My grandmother used to make the most delicious cheese biscuit wafer things….we only had them at Christmas and they were so good. The ones I’ve made never come close.

    • Kim Holloway April 25, 2011 at 1:45 pm #

      Even a bad cheese straw is still pretty good.

  4. Joe April 21, 2011 at 11:55 am #

    I make them for my office every holiday season and they are usually gone in a couple of hours and they start asking me in November when I going to make them. Unfortunately, I am not supposed to eat them as the recipe I use has a ton of butter and cheese spread but they are beyond good. I put in enough garlic & red pepper to give ’em some punch.

    • Kim Holloway April 25, 2011 at 1:47 pm #

      Your version sounds great. You’ve got some very lucky co-workers…

  5. Joe April 21, 2011 at 3:49 pm #

    Kim…if you ever want some good “bought” cheese straws, lemon straw and other Mississippi goodies, check out Mississippi Gift Company online at http://www.themississippigiftcompany.com

    • Kim Holloway April 25, 2011 at 1:54 pm #

      Before I got into making homemade holiday goodies for my clients, I used to send eclectic selections of Southern treats from a hair salon/gift shop in Jackson. Then I discovered the Mississippi Gift Company. Ordering from them was way easier. I’ve never actually ordered anything for myself, but I know they’ve got some great stuff.

  6. reelingintheyears.wordpress.com April 22, 2011 at 1:32 pm #

    Love any form of southern cheese. Pimento cheese is still # 1, straws # 2 (pretty, but not as filling as a scoop). I love your wording–‘nigh impossible!’

    • Kim Holloway April 25, 2011 at 1:55 pm #

      I need to do a post on pimento cheese one of these days, but I have to admit that I’ve never actually eaten it. I know, I know…

  7. Debbie April 23, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

    Never had a cheese straw, never even heard of one. Still, it sounds pretty tasty, and I can’t fathom why one never crossed my path. Oh, wait, maybe because they aren’t chocolate!

    • Kim Holloway April 25, 2011 at 1:55 pm #

      But they do go well with chocolate. Then again, what doesn’t?

  8. Val Erde April 24, 2011 at 7:21 am #

    I like cheese straws. Not have ’em for a while, though. I like cheese sables even more, very easy to make also. In case interested:

    100g grated Cheddar
    100g softened butter
    100g plain flour
    1 egg yolk

    Mix together all but the egg, roll into sausage shape, chill in fridge an hour or two. slice thinly, put on baking tin, brush a little egg yolk mixed with a little cold water over the top of each, bake til going golden, Eat. Yum!

    • Kim Holloway April 25, 2011 at 1:56 pm #

      Those do sound great. I’m adding them to my list of things to bake. Thanks!!

  9. bayoubyme April 27, 2011 at 7:08 pm #

    Thank you for this post and for the link to the recipe. They were a smash at the Easter brunch I took them to.

    • Kim Holloway April 29, 2011 at 11:48 am #

      Yay! So glad you and your peeps (no Easter pun intended) liked them!

  10. Sarah November 5, 2011 at 7:32 am #

    Mississippi Cheese Straws are the favorite here in the south. I guess you could say ‘often imitated, but never duplicated’, ha ha! You wouldn’t find an event in Mississippi without them.

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