Of peanuts, beer and matters of taste
Boiled peanuts may be an acquired taste: I have acquired it.
A fascinating, detailed article on peanuts sent to me by my long-time colleague and appreciator of fine writing Hembree Brandon, reminded me of a recent day well-spent touring craft breweries in Asheville, N.C., with two younger couples, whose names are withheld lest they ever want to run for public office. I was the designated driver.
At the last but one brewery and tasting spot, The Wicked Weed (Not certain where that moniker comes from but I can assure you that the only mind altering substance sampled was beer.), the scant food menu included boiled peanuts. I explained what a tasty southern delicacy is a boiled peanut. Skepticism greeted this opinion, but a bowl was ordered to appease the driver. Note: The only advantage of serving as designated driver is that passengers are willing to pony up funds for his meals and non-alcoholic libations.
One couple abstained from sampling the peanuts; the other insisted that I help myself as they began cautiously nibbling on the soft, salty, slippery treat. I ate a few, but, despite early grumblings about the sliminess of the delicacy, the bowl of boiled legumes was relegated to a pile of empty hulls before I could eat more than a half-dozen.
A boiled peanut is an acquired taste, but, apparently, a taste that may be acquired within a few minutes — coupled with a half-day of sampling craft beer. I’ve always thought boiled peanuts are best accompanied by a cold beer. I can’t imagine even the best, crisp, cold white wine as an appropriate beverage for boiled peanuts. It’s a snack more appropriately eaten on the tailgate of an old pickup, in a creaky porch swing, or in the stands of your favorite college football team.
It goes well with beer, even those ostentatious crafty ones, but, when driving or eating at church socials, washes down well with a cold Coca Cola. Some might prefer RC to capture the rural ambience, but I always associate RC with moon pies. It’s a matter of taste.
And boiled peanuts are all about taste. They are at the height of their flavor fresh from the boiling pot, plucked gingerly from a small paper bag and eaten hot. They remain tasty but lose a bit of their goober goodness as they cool down.
The article Hembree sent explained how boiled peanuts have traveled far from the roadside stands in South Georgia where I first encountered them. Companies ship boiled peanuts to such exotic locales as New York City. Some prefer adding flavors, such as Cajun spices, to the brine that’s the essence of a boiled peanut’s being.
Not me. The appeal of a boiled peanut, I argue, is its humble origin, a tasty snack in a paper sack from a roadside stand—about as rural as it gets.
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