SLOAN COLUMN: I prefer my peanuts dry, thank you very much
By: Bob Sloan
An old friend of mine once told me a story about his first encounter with the southern delicacy known as boiled peanuts.
A Yankee by birth, Joe had made his way to North Carolina from his hometown of Johnston, N.J. He lived in the tiny town of Tar Heel, not much more than a crossroads until the late 1990s when Smithfield opened its packaging plant.
One day Joe and his friend Ed, also known as “Fast Eddie,” stopped by the local convenience store on the way home from work. Checking out, Joe saw a display on the counter and decided to grab a brown paper bag filled with peanuts. He somehow failed to see the word “boiled” preceding the word peanuts on the display.
Joe said he felt the warmness of the bag, but did not think much of it. Joe paid the cashier and he and Fast Eddie headed back to the car to make the short ride home.
Joe had just settled into the passenger seat when he stuck his hand into the bag. According to Fast Eddie, Joe got a most unsettling look on his face before taking a closer look inside the bag. Joe still looked puzzled.
“What’s wrong,” asked Fast Eddie.
“I gotta go back inside, man,” Joe replied, unbuckling his seat belt. “That guy just sold me a back of wet peanuts.”
Fast Eddie said it took him a good five minutes before he could stop laughing and explain to his pal that the peanuts were supposed to be wet.
“I should have just let him go back inside,” admitted Fast Eddie as he retold the story for probably the two hundredth time. “I know that would’ve been a hoot.”
Fast Eddie said his stomach hurt from laughing so hard after watching Joe taste his first boiled peanut.
“Let’s just say the taste was not suitable to Joe’s delicate Yankee palate,” said Fast Eddie, a wide grin on his face.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I side with Joe when it comes to boiled peanuts. They are an acquired taste which I have not yet acquired, even after 30 years of living in the Carolinas.
Each time I turn them down I get one of the expected responses.
“You’re kidding, right?”
“Good lord, man! Have you lost your mind?”
“You must be a Yankee.”
I even got a “Well, bless your heart,” once from a sweet little old lady.
Call me a traitor or Yankee if you want, but damp legumes don’t do a thing for me. They are way too salty and the soft, mushy texture leaves my taste buds completely confused. Peanuts are supposed to be hard and crunchy, the way God intended them to be.
There are apparently many ways to eat boiled peanuts. Some people eat them whole, shell and all. Others insist you must suck the saltiness off the soft shells before the devouring the meat, much like you would a Louisiana crawfish. I’ve tried both of these methods and I still can’t stomach the taste.
Blasphemy, right? I know that’s what most of you are thinking. Yes, I know boiled peanuts are “The Caviar of the South.” Yes, I know they are the officially state snack of South Carolina. That still doesn’t make them go down any easier.
Please don’t think any less of me because I prefer my peanuts not to be waterlogged. Think of it as me leaving more of them for you.