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Sunday, May 1, 2016

From my Front Porch

Thursday, June 27, 2002

I don't think there is any time of the year when the eating is better. Depending on what part of the country you're living in, you may already be harvesting fresh fruits and vegetables from your garden and eating meals fit for any king. If you don't happen to have your own garden there usually is a friendly neighbor who is more than happy to share his bounty or you can shop at your neighborhood farmer's market where you can find all the fresh produce you could possibly need or want.

Another option is the roadside stand. They are popping up everywhere. For my money it is the vegetable stand with the signs made of ragged cardboard advertising fresh squash or tomatoes that I tend to be drawn to. In my experience, the worst spellers usually have some of the best produce.

If you have ever traveled far enough into the deep South you have probably seen similar signs advertising boiled peanuts, boled penuts, boild peanuts or any other possible spelling variation. Usually the farmers are sitting under an umbrella or a make shift shelter beside a pickup truck. In the back of the truck is a stove with a big pot of fresh, green peanuts boiling in water that is salted to perfection. When done, they are bagged up and sold to be eaten on the spot or taken home and refrigerated or frozen. Yes, they will freeze and since boiled peanut season is so short it is a good idea to keep this in mind and purchase plenty for later. Just remember to thaw them out and reheat before attempting to eat the peanuts.

Last week I was visiting with some of my family in Mississippi. I had no more than come in the back door when my cousin asked if I would like some boiled peanuts. My goodness, it had been months since I had had any of this fine southern delicacy. It seems that once you get too far north of the Attala County line in central Mississippi you are pretty much out of luck unless you don't mind the canned variation, which I must admit I have had to resort to eating, but only because it was an emergency.

Some folks not familiar with this truly southern tradition may be wondering just how one goes about eating boiled peanuts. It is really not that difficult. One way is to simply put a peanut in your mouth, savor the flavor, and then with your teeth open the hull, carefully discarding them and eating the peanuts. Another way, is to crack the hull open with your fingers, extract the peanuts and eat them. Whichever method you choose, keep in mind that the warm salty juice running down your arms and face is just part of the fun. For the full experience it's especially nice to have a glass of sweet iced tea on hand to drink while you're eating.

A friend of mine has an aunt, who despite being completely blind, still manages to cook on occasion. Not long ago, she prepared what she thought was a squash casserole for a church dinner. It wasn't until after everyone was about finished eating that she realized she had forgotten her dish on the backseat of her niece's car. She asked someone to retrieve it. You can just imagine her surprise when she was told that her casserole was an interesting combination of both squash and boiled peanuts.

I have no doubt that despite the accidentally mismatched ingredients the peanuts were rescued from this concoction and enjoyed by one and all. Trust me. Boiled peanuts are just that good.