Guide to the South: Boiled Peanuts

The ancient Greeks said that ambrosia was the food of the gods, which lets us know that Greece must have been a Northern state.  Down in the South, we prefer boiled peanuts.

Way back in college, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to spend one summer in Washington, D.C. as an intern for a senator from Georgia.  There were a few other guys in the program that sponsored me, and three of us lived together in a townhouse on Capitol Hill.  Wait, I should clarify that.  Three of us lived together in a room in a townhouse on Capitol Hill.  The rest of the house was filled with other interns from around the country, so that there were ten of us, total, in the house.  Just what D.C. needs, ten charged up twenty-one year olds terrorizing the neighborhood.  We liked to call it The Real World, D.C.

All of that is a long lead in to say that we had roommates from all over the country with little exposure to Southern delicacies.  Being proper  Southerners, we found it our duty to educate them.  Part of their education was boiled peanuts.  My parents happened to visit me one weekend as a stop on a road trip, and they brought with them a bushel bag full of green peanuts (basically immature peanuts that have not yet hardened).   As we started cooking, a roommate from New Hampshire walked in and asked, “What are those?  Peas?”  Now you can’t blame him for being a Yankee, but…Anyway, after a few hours we served up the treat.  Most of the house gave rave reviews, but there were a few skeptics that we couldn’t convert.  Oh well, I don’t ask that you love them, but I do ask that you give them a try.

Boiled peanuts are pretty straightforward to make.  If you can, it is best to get the peanuts straight from the farm.  For an authentic, although time-consuming, experience, you may even get the vine (peanuts are legumes and grow underground on the root of a viney, low growing bush) and pick them off while sitting under a shade tree and drinking sweet tea.  If that is not an option, grocery stores usually have them when in season in the summertime.  After washing the peanuts, place them in a large pot and cover with water.  Salt liberally (this is key – don’t try to be healthy and go light on the salt).  Boil for a few hours, until the meat of the peanut becomes soft, and enjoy!

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