Friday, August 18, 2006

Dear Yankees-

No offense intended, but I am never moving "home."

I was 20 years old when I had my first boiled peanut. I was on a camping trip in Cherokee, NC with my roommate Mary, and we found a roadside boiled peanut stand in the Reservation. I bought a bag. Mary and I sat on the hood of my car and ate the whole bag, tossing shells in front of us on the ground. We immediately bought another bag "To Go."

Every day for the rest of the trip we would get another bag and demolish it within minutes. Then we went home to NJ, where there are no boiled peanuts, and if we mentioned them we would get disgusted looks.

I moved down here when I was 24, and when I was 25 my ex-husband and I drove into Eastern NC where I saw a sign on the side of the highway that said, "BOILED PEANUTS." I slapped him to get him to stop the car, and we ran in. They were sold in tiny bags, so I bought three. The lady in the stand said I must be from down here, because no one from "up north" would even touch them. I told her I was from NJ. I think her mind was blown to bits.

I went on a mission to find out how to do this at home. I discovered that it's actually very simple. Buy a ton of raw peanuts. Throw them into a giant kettle with about a half a canister of salt, and then boil the fuck out of them for hours. When they finally sink, turn off the heat and let them sit for a bit. Keep tasting them to see if they're salty/mushy enough. Drain, and store in the fridge.

This worked well until I moved into an apartment on my own where the kitchen was tiny and had no air movement. I went on a boiling spree one night, and walked into the kitchen to find the ceiling raining salty brown water from the condensation that had developed. I learned to put a box fan in the room when craving.

In emergencies I would buy canned. Yes. They sell canned boiled peanuts down here. They're pretty good, but they don't have the same smoky aroma coming from the shell that fresh ones do. This brings us to today.

This morning I suddenly jumped off the sofa, grabbed my keys, and drove about 100 yards to the Exxon station down the road with a ten dollar bill. I KNEW I had seen canned boiled peanuts there, and I was right. Horrifyingly, every can said, "Cajun Style." Huh?? I picked up a can. Put it back down. Picked it up again and said, "Fuck it," and walked up to the counter where the clerk, bless her heart, said not one word about someone purchasing one can of boiled peanuts at 9:30am.

I brought them home, drained them, and dumped them in a bowl. They were COVERED in wet, crushed red pepper. Here goes. CRACK. Munch. CRACK MUNCH CRACK MUNCH CRACK MUNCH. I had red salty water running down my arms and pooling in front of me. My fingertips were getting numb from a combination of brine and splitting shells. I finished the entire can in less than 10 minutes.

Satisfaction. It's a wonderful thing. And I'm never moving back home. I think I'll have my leftover Brunswick Stew for lunch.

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