Goobers on the Half Shell

by Hugging The Coast /
Hugging The Coast's picture
Mar 13, 2009 / 1 comments

Like self-discipline, a taste for boiled peanuts is often said to be something that is 'acquired.'

Now, self-discipline, i.e., the mastery of one's urges and impulses in service of larger
goals, certainly sounds worthwhile. Sadly, though, it's a notion I'll have to
accept on faith because, well . . . because I've never had the self-discipline
necessary to acquire any self-discipline.

Especially when it comes to boiled peanuts.

Because a taste for them was not something I had to expend any energy acquiring:
from my very first day in South Carolina and my very first experience with what I now
know were overboiled and oversalted filling-station peanuts, served in (gasp!) a
styrofoam cup, I was completely and utterly hooked.

But it took me a while to get there. For years I'd seen signs for them at gas stations
and rest stops on the way to Florida (to New Yorkers, the South is something you drive
through to get to Florida, which to them isn't really the South.) I'd even seen cans of
"Green Boiled Peanuts" at souvenir shops, which led me to believe that they were a
species of novelty rather than real food; something people ate on a dare when they
were drunk.

I've since learned that boiled peanuts are the Official State Snack Food of South
Carolina (Article 3 Section 1-1-682 of the S.C. Code of Laws, in case you were
wondering), which should come as no surprise to anyone who has spent any time in
South Carolina. You don't have to throw a rock particularly hard to find a place to buy
them: just about every convenience store, supermarket, gas station, grocery store, and
farmer's market sells them, either hot & ready to eat, or canned in various sizes, or in those oh-so-convenient microwave pouches. They are, literally, everywhere.

That's not even including those accursed roadside stands which are, for me at least, the
gastronomic equivalent of opium dens. No, make that crack houses: opium involves
specialized accoutrement and stylish, elaborate rituals; crack is (to misappropriate the title of a totally unrelated Errol Morris film) fast, cheap, and out of
control. Opium smokers 'bang the gong' once, then lie back and sojourn in the land of
sweet, airy dreams; crackheads, on the other hand, would methodically smoke their way through a mountain of rocks -- if they had a mountain of rocks to smoke.

And that's exactly the way it is with boiled peanuts. Which is why I stand before you
today in a pile of empty shells, arms wet to the elbows, and proclaim with salt-wrinkled
lips that I am, officially, a Boiled Peanut Addict.

I am aware that this is my opportunity to express my feelings of sorrow or shame, but I
am neither sorrowful nor ashamed. Je ne regrette rien, ya'll! Alright, well, maybe I do
seem a bit furtive as I sit in my car and snarf down pound after pound as fast as I can
shell them, but that has more to do with gluttony than with the object thereof.

No, there are far worse things to be addicted to than boiled peanuts. Besides being
vitamin and protein rich, they have quadruple the antioxidant
of raw or roasted peanuts. And while drug abuse will ruin your life,
the worst that boiled peanut abuse will do is mess up your shirt front and spoil your
appetite come suppertime.

Still, the knowledge and acceptance of my addiction has lead to a degree of practical
self-awareness. For instance, I have discovered after many disconcertingly gluttonous
episodes that I will immediately eat as many pounds as I buy, regardless of my best
intentions to 'save some for later' or share them with anyone other than myself. And
though I haven't developed any actual self-discipline as a result, I'm proud to say I've
learned to moderate my purchasing excesses by holding steadfastly to one simple rule:
I never buy more than I can carry back to the car in one trip.

Okay, okay: I never buy more than the wheelbarrow can carry back to the car in one
trip, but that's a step in the right direction, isn't it?


If you dare, you can flirt with addiction by trying this Jalapeno Mesquite Boiled Peanuts recipe -- after you draw the curtains and send the kids to bed, of course. ;)


--Doug DuCap, Southern Food Editor/Wandering Weblog:

Comments (1)

  • Dr. Jessie Voigts

    15 years 1 month ago

    i've never had them - will have to rectify that situation!! these sound delicious! we need to head south, i think...


    thanks, doug!


    Jessie Voigt, PhD


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