While driving around the south east, as a hurricane was eating up my home and I along with most of the state of Florida was running scared, I noticed everywhere were ‘boiled’ peanut stands. I kept meaning to stop, after all I have often lived exclusively on peanuts. But this business of boiling them was new to me.
At last, somewhere in Georgia I saw a booth with a painted board reading Boiled Peanuts. There was no one around but the vendor, a man with brimmed hat and beard.
First thing I did was ask exactly what is a boiled peanut.
The vendor crossed his arms and planted his feet wide and began a tedious explanation in a deep drawly accent about this being spiced and that being salted and I was getting a bit lost so I said, ‘Sir, if I could just try your basic regular boiled peanut, we could start from there.’
Frowning with disbelief he took a spoon and dipped it into some brackish stew and he produced one single blob, like a small but fat worm, curled and blanched, in the spoon.
He transferred this tragic looking object to me. I picked it up with my fingers and nibbled delicately at the edge of the soggy peanut.
He stared at me with chilly eyes and I saw a fleck of something in his beard and gradually the pronounced fiery taste of salt had invaded the entirety of my mouth.
I stared back at the vendor. A standoff at the peanut stand. He waited as I chewed and he eyed me. I already knew what I thought and I considered what I should say. To be polite or not, was the question.
‘This is,’ I said, as I swallowed the fragment with the vendor expectantly watching, and I hesitated because there was still time to divert and say something else, anything else. But no, on I went, ‘It’s disgusting.’
To be fair, he took it well.