Waking up in Key Largo I decided I should spend the day trying to get out of the state of Florida. I drove all day past palm trees, past glitz, past swamps. I saw short fat palm trees, casinos, tall thin palm trees, tourist beaches, coconut palm trees, tourists traps, palm tree nurseries, and in the end I was happy to drive out of there. Shortly before I reached the border I drove through this little town advertising a new store, opened only a few days, it was like a farmer’s market type deal. I had to stop though because over the front of it was a large sign reading, “hot boiled peanuts.”
What are hot boiled peanuts? Apparently they’re exactly that. I had to try some as that sounded ghastly terrible.
There was one middle aged woman sitting there looking a bit put off, perhaps due to a lack of customers or perhaps due to the intense heat and lack of air conditioning ability in a building with no walls.
“So what is this I hear about boiled peanuts?” I said, “I’m from NH, I wanted to try them…”
“Well they’re warm and salted. Here, I don’t want you to buy anything you don’t like.” She handed me two nuts. The shells were soggy, moist, and warm. I slipped out the little meaty nut part and took an adventurous bite. It was like a tiny glob of mashed potatoes in a shell, with the hint of peanut taste. Maybe this was because aside from the meal I ate at Keren’s I was missing hot food, maybe it was because I was desperate for something different besides the PB&J’s I was sustaining myself with but either way, the boiled peanuts were amazing.
“Oh I really like them!” I exclaimed. A surprised, “Really?!” came from the woman selling it to me. I bought a big saggy wet and warm bag of them. Delicious.
“Usually I can guess people’s reactions…” The woman said. I laughed. I bought a cup of the things. She explained they’re usually eaten with soft drinks and are made from raw immature peanuts, unlike the fully grown roasted ones I was used to. I sat in the car picking at them for quite awhile until the large foam cup was nearly empty. This was my second southern food and my second success. Good thing I wasn’t about to try any chitterlings.
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