Tuesday, July 15, 2008

If you're looking for a moral to this song, 50 million monkeys can't be wrong

Lyric from a song made very popular by Dean Martin, The Peanut Vendor. Although it's been around longer than that.

Peanuts are a big deal in the south. Of course, you know, they're not a nut, they are a legume that was imported from Africa (even though they are originally from South America), along with okra, black-eyed peas and watermelons. Peanuts were one of the staples in the diets of enslaved Africans living in the Americas, so it's no surprise peanuts are everywhere down here.

Hell, one of our Presidents used his image as a Georgia peanut farmer to sell himself to the American people. Of course, Jimmy Carter also did graduate work in nuclear physics at Union College, New York, but that image did resonate quite as much as peanut farming.

Peanuts are important down here.

However, unlike up north, most folks don't prefer their peanuts roasted 'round these parts, they like 'em boiled.

It really is a southern thing. Every summer, hand made signs start popping up all along the road offering boiled peanuts in various vernaculars. I've seen everything from "Boiled P-nuts" to "Boiled Pee-nuts" offered for sale on the side of the road. Just remember, when you say boiled down here, you better say it "bawled", or they'll know you're a Yankee.

In the deep south, you can even find them canned in grocery stores like tomatoes or other veggies.

And I despise them.

I consider myself pretty well acclimated to the American South. I love grits and greens, I eat hoppin' john and pork every New Year's Day, and I even sound more like my neighbours here, than I do my northern family.

But there are two things I can't stand: sweet tea and boiled peanuts.

My husband loves both, and while he understands my dislike of sweet tea, he never tires of urging me to eat boiled peanuts.

Basically, a boiled peanut is a peanut that's been, well...boiled. You have to use fresh, green (as in just harvested, not in colour) peanuts. Then they're boiled, usually outdoors, in a big pot of salty water until the shells/skins get soggy. According to What's Cooking America.net, they take on a "fresh legume flavor". According to me, they taste like soggy, slimy, wet and salty cardboard.

Just the idea of squishing one of those things into my mouth makes me shudder.

When Ray interviewed someone from the Effingham County Fair this past fall, he asked the man "How can I get my wife to try boiled peanuts?" The man's answer: "Well, hell, son, just shove a couple in her mouth. She'll get the idea."

And I may be coming around to that idea.

There's a gentleman who sells his boiled peanuts just outside the door of our local grocery. His sign proclaims "Best Boiled Peanuts in Georgia", and he gets extra points from me for spelling "peanut" correctly. He's a joy to talk to. He has one of those warm, southern voices that sounds like it's either going to break into a spiritual any minute, or possibly a sermon. TFYO always has to stop and chat with him whenever we go to the store, and it's always worth it to watch her listen to his stories.

She pays attention to that man, she hangs on his every word.

But I've never bought his peanuts.

I think, this week, I just might. At the very least, Ray will eat them.

This is Judy Garland singing The Peanut Vendor Song, not the best version I could find, but most of the other versions were in Spanish.


WT said...

I'm a little conflicted here, on the one hand I want to say "stand firm Jen, those things will kill ya", but on the other hand I've never eaten one so that's being a little disingenuous.

Who knows, I might even like them, but I doubt it.

Leendaluu said...

Yeah, I can't say I'm dying to try one. I like mine roasted with a cup of beer and a Cubs game....

Kaycie said...

I'm Southern. Well, as Southern as a girl from Oklahoma can be. I like sweet tea, pulled pork, blackberry cobbler,dirty rice, wilted greens, grits for breakfast, and proper banana pudding with a baked meringue topping. But I cannot eat boiled peanuts. Yuck.

Diana said...

I've never tried a boiled peanut, but it just sounds so very, very wrong. Roasted? Yes. Nice and crunchy. I don't even like them in Chinese food unless they were freshly added because they get all soggy otherwise.

And I'll take my tea unsweetened, too, thank you.

Probably good that I live in the north. Congratulations on cutting back on the work thing. Life's too short to be too stressed if you can at all help it.

Mya said...

Welcome back Jen! Good to hear you're still out there, and hopefully less tired out now that your work is reduced. Hope Baby J is thriving, TFYO too, of course.
Boiled peanuts? Well, I'll try anything once...even hoppin' John? Who is he???Is he edible??

Mya x

The Rotten Correspondent said...

Uh oh. I'm almost afraid to get into this, since I am still scarred from the great White Taffy Halloween Candy debacle last Fall. Oh, well. Here I go.

I absolutely, positively adore boiled peanuts. Love.Them. Cry many tears because you can only get them in the deep south. I'm with you on the way they look - kind of like boiled death. But they taste so incredibly good.

I think everytime I fussed growing up my grandma shoved a boiled peanut in my mouth, so blame her. I'm with you on the sweet tea, though. That stuff will kill you.

Jo Beaufoix said...

Hmm, I've had them roasted and honey roasted and salted but boiled?? Interesting. I would try them, but I'm not sure I'd like them. The seller sounds brill though, I love it when people have a story to tell and give my kids the time of day.

thegrandview said...

Well, well, well. I am glad to see you are back. How are you liking joblessness? Now I am going to try and get back to work, if someone will take me.
Glad to see you are well, somewhat rested and writing again!!!