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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Boiled Peanut Stands


After moving to the South it took some time to familiarize myself with local cuisine.  I never knew how many different things you could fry or pickle.  Some foods I was just never able to get on board with.  I still think sweet potatoes taste lake baby food.





I previously thought grits were too bland for even babies to eat, but I realized they can be greatly improved when you put some shrimp on them.




One Southern delicacy that I was somewhat hesitant to try was the ever present boiled peanut.  These peanuts were seemingly sold everywhere you went in the South, sold out of ramshackle stands on the side of the road.

 
One of my first introductions to boiled peanuts was a roadside salesman I passed everyday.  The man looked like Charles Manson and stood on the edge of the road holding out a zip-lock bag of Peanuts.  He had a sign that declared the peanuts for sale.  He would be there without fail everyday, even in the rain.  He would stand there with rain pouring all over him as he held out his bag of peanuts, looking quite frightening.  I was not as brave back then and never bothered to stop.  One day the man was gone and replaced with a metal sign that said that selling produce on the side of the road was illegal.

When I finally decided to try boiled peanuts I did it the wrong way.  I bought a can of boiled peanuts at the grocery store.  It was cold, disgusting and slimy.  I wondered what all the fuss was about.  But I had made a crucial mistake.  Boiled peanuts should NEVER be brought pre-packaged.  The should be bought at the after mentioned roadside stands.  They need to come out of a big stinky black pot that can be smelled for miles.



Or converted oil drums.


They are an absolute delicacy.  They are hot, salty, meaty and delicious.  They are the ultimate southern road trip food.  They are worth having sticky salty hands and a car full of slimy peanut shells. 

Our favorite place grab boiled peanuts is the roadside stand in Cherokee, NC, right before we enter the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The peanuts are sold by this man.





He one time told me he ate nothing, but peanuts.  I'm not sure if he was joking or not.

The signs for these shacks are impressive in their own right and some can be considered works of folk art.






These shacks are true parts of the Southern roadside.





Of course boiled peanuts are not completely isolate to roadside stands.  I have to give a shout out to one of my favorite restaurants:  Hyman's Seafood in Charleston, SC.  They give a bowl of boiled peanuts to every table much like a Mexican restaurant gives chips and salsa.  Another cool thing about Hyman's is that it is a hotspot for celebrities and they stamp each table with the Celebrities that have sat at that particular table.


That's right, I got to eat boiled peanuts in Vanilla Ice's seat.  My wife was sitting in Michael Bolten's seat.  I like to think they ate there at the same time.

The Carpetbagger

BTW, Please check out my My Flickr Photostream


10 comments:

  1. i have never stopped at one of those stands, though i have been tempted. my one and only boiled peanut experience was actually at hyman's! and i sat in raven samone's seat and the owner told me i needed to wear more sunscreen because being fair skinned i could get cancer. sadly, our peanuts were cold and gross. i think i need to give them another chance.
    i can only eat grits if they are REALLY cheesy. and i'm just going to ignore what you said about sweet potatoes. you just haven't had the kind made by my granny with dried apples on top.

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    1. Keep in mind I am a Midwesterner and did not eat sweet potatoes until I was in my twenties :)

      The guy that owns Hyman's is really nice, but he apparently is crazy as a loon :)

      And yes, boiled peanuts MUST be eaten hot or they will be gross

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  2. I'm sorry did you say grits are bland?

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  3. Er.......that's a sin down here, isn't it?

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  4. I passed so many boiled peanut stands on my drive to the Redneck Riviera earlier in the year. On the drive back, once I got close to home I felt sad that I didn't stop at any of them. I went to the local walmart and got a can of them, but luckily I stopped myself before opening the can as canned peanuts probably would have ruined the experience. On my next swing through Alabama, I stopped at a place and wasn't paying attention and got roasted peanuts by mistake. Someday...

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    1. I guess I didn't realize that they were so regional. You don't have boiled peanuts in Mid Tennessee?

      I know they are popular in both Western NC, North Georgia and South Carolina Low Country. I guess I need to keep track of what regions are boiled peanut friendly.

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  5. The best boiled peanuts come fresh from the field. A friend's father was a peanut farmer in southeast Alabama. We would pick a bunch from the "short rows" of a field and boil them. You need to put plenty of salt in the pot, when they are done, the longer they set in the pot, the saltier they get.
    Canned peanuts from the store can be made edible. They are packed in some form of liquid, I'm thinking motor oil. It's probably the brine they were cooked in, but still... Drain this off as soon as you open the can. Rinse the peanuts in cold water. You can heat them up in a cooker on the stove, or store them in the frig. I like them hot or cold.

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    1. That's actually a great tip. I may have to try that.

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  6. We have great peanuts in Tampa also when you're in Tampa try them out I'm on 34th and Northbay the outside the friendly fish market

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