An Ode to Boiled Peanuts

Jalapeno boiled peanuts,
Spicy Garlic boiled peanuts,
Ginger & Curry boiled peanuts…
Peanuts for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert

What is it about boiled peanuts and the south?

Can’t  imagine a summer without them.
My father introduced us kids to boiled peanuts.
They became staples for trips to the beach.
My brothers and I would sit in a circle in the sand,
hardly speaking as we focused on
peeling away the soft shells to get at that salty prize.

We may be older now, arriving from homes of our own,
but we still look forward to
gathering on the beach at sunset with extended family,
chairs in a circle, cooler-top serving as a
tray for cold drinks, cheese and crackers,
and boiled peanuts.

The genesis of boiled peanuts is vague.

Some believe they came into being during the civil war
when Confederate soldiers, short on rations and cooking methods,
would throw peanuts and bits of salt pork in a pot over a fire and boil.
This tasty, high-protein snack would be edible for up to seven days.

However, the roots of peanut boiling go back farther.
The peanut plant was brought to North America
from Brazil and Peru on the 17th and 18th century (slave?) trading ships.

Chances are, people have been boiling peanuts
since they’ve put water over fire
anywhere near a humble peanut bush.

But, how they’ve grown up.

Classic salty boiled peanuts are still a favorite,
but more recently, chefs du arachides bouillies
have taken to adding all sorts of seasonings.

While the most popular seem to be
a variety of hot spices (spicy garlic, jalapeño),
I’m grateful to imaginative peanut masters for
introducing me to a flavor twist:
teriyaki, ginger and curry,
star anise,
soy sauce,
fennel
coriander….
the list continues to grow.

Beverage of choice?

Sweet tea, beer or a soft drink have traditionally
accompanied a damp paper bag of boiled peanuts,
but these new seasonings may prompt
adding wine to the list.

All this boiled peanut mania is
giving birth to a wonderful new event:
the boiled peanut cook-off!

Were you at this past weekend’s 2nd Annual Boiled Peanut Cook-off at
The Cock & Bull in Columbia?!

Sad to think there are just a few days of summer left
to enjoy boiled peanuts
on the back porch,
at the beach,
in the high country.

… hmmm,  football season’s on the way   😉

© Christie James, 2009

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