Sunday, September 15, 2013

Family Heritage Boiled Peanuts

My dad's dad grew up in the south - in rural North Carolina - and even though he spent much of his adult life away from the South, he never lost his beautiful Southern drawl. When he would call me on the phone he would say "Amey, darlin'..." and it was just the sweetest thing.

When he died, he requested that there be no funeral service, and that his ashes be buried alongside my dad's mom, in North Carolina. So, together with his ashes, my mom and dad and brother and I flew out to North Carolina. For my brother and I, it was our first time ever going to the South. We met my grandpa's wonderful cousins, who we had never met. We saw the house where my dad grew up, the school where my grandpa went to high school, and countless other special spots. It was really wonderful.

We also saw mysterious signs alongside the road, advertising something weird and unheard of... "Boiled Peanuts." Well, I guess my dad had probably heard of Boiled Peanuts, but the rest of us sure hadn't -- and we had a combined sense of terror and curiosity about what they could possibly be. Eventually, our curiosity got the better of us, and we pulled over at a roadside stand and bought ourselves a baggie of boiled peanuts.

Now, you know the facts about family roadtrips... they have their ups and downs. Especially when the two children are now young adults and everyone is squeezed into a minivan for 5 days together. But let me tell you, that moment when we opened our bag of boiled peanuts and each had our first boiled peanut - it was pure gold. It was fun and funny and adventurous and new and shocking. Chomping on our peanuts and exchanging looks of surprise and confusion - what is this? do I like it? do you like it? ha ha! 

It turns out, boiled peanuts are really yums! If you like edamame, I think you will also like boiled peanuts. They are like peanut-flavored edamame. You take fresh peanuts (still in the shell) and boil 'em up in salted water for about 1 or 1 1/2 hours. Then you enjoy eating soft, salty, chewy little peanuts out of the shell. They are good hot, warm, or whatever. Essentially, they are good.

you can't see it, but there was steam rising up off these peanuts

In the years since that trip, I have had many other reasons to go back to visit North Carolina - to see my family and also to visit Mr VE&T's family - and I always make a point to seek out some boiled peanuts. Then, just a couple years ago, I realized that sometimes fresh peanuts show up at our local farmers market! When I saw them this weekend - I jumped for joy and knew I just had to do a boiled peanuts post. 

Yummers was also very interested in my boiled peanuts!

I wasn't sure who to dedicate this post to ... because boiled peanuts remind me of my sweet Grandpa Slim (though I don't even know if he liked them), and they remind me of that one gloriously-100%-perfect family moment with my mom and dad and brother and me all eating this crazy new thing for the very first time.  So, I guess it's dedicated to all of them together!


  1. Anonymous7:51 PM

    Boiled peanuts (pronounced 'bowled' in Georgia where my mom is from) are awesome! I, too, love them. Anytime we go back to see my mom's family we cook up a huge batch at my Great-Aunt's house. We also bring back bags of raw peanuts to store in our freezer. Yahoo for finding some raw peanuts here! Sarah Z.

  2. I've had a couple of revelatory moments like that with family, but the food wasn't boiled peanuts. Boiled peanuts are something I have yet to experience except vicariously through you, and one other recent mofo post. I'm thinking at our next family dinner, I should set out a bowl and see what happens!

  3. This post was gave me a lovely memory of my Daddy! He didn't eat boiled peanuts, I've never heard of eating them like that, but would munch away at monkey nuts from the shell. Thank you for another dose of "nosh-talgia" :D

  4. Boiled peanuts are so fascinating! I have only had them out of a jar sent to me by johnp, and they were addicting. If I ever find fresh peanuts around these parts I will definitely be making some. It's interesting that they have to boil for SO long!

  5. This is a great story about how you came to discover the yumminess of boiled peanuts. I am from North Carolina so I guess by default I am a lover of boiled peanuts. Now that I'm residing in Atlanta, GA I can still get boiled peanuts on the regs even at the grocery store (which isn't as good). The best is when it has a little cajun spice added to it.


  6. I've never had boiled peanuts as you describe them, I guess the nearest I've had are sprouted peanuts in a stir fry, they were pretty interesting. I absolutely love your illustration of the hokey operation with the happy vendor and top-hatted peanut decoration!

    1. Well, I absolutely love all your illustrations, it goes without saying really, that one just especially appealed!

  7. I've never had boiled peanuts but am going to give them a try. Your posts are so beautiful. Can't wait to read more.

  8. What a beautiful post! I've never had boiled peanuts before, I didn't even know they existed until I stumbled across them online, but then Canada sure is a long was from North Carolina.

  9. Awww, Grandpa Slim, bless his boiled peanut loving heart.
    Shock and awe in the van haha :)
    Boiled peanut neophyte here, but I love edamames and peanuts so this could be a win for me.

  10. Beautiful story.
    Boiled peanuts are so good, I find it surprising that they've remained almost exclusively in the South. I fell in love with boiled peanuts when we'd visit Florida when I was a child, but I've *never* seen or heard anything about them elsewhere.

  11. After missing the Cajun boiled peanuts I'd occasionally find at rural roadside stands in Florida, I decided to make a batch a couple weeks ago. They were great! And such a fun thing to make in the slow cooker. Try Cajun boiled peanuts next! You won't be sorry!


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