Southern Delicacies - boiled peanuts

southern delicacies - boiled peanutsMany of us who grew up in the South, just assume that the world enjoys these same delicacies that we always have.  But, when we venture out, we quickly realize that many of our favorite southern delicacies haven't made it past the mason dixon line, more or less the county line.  There are so many southern delicacies, that we take for granted.  And I think it's time to open some doors and share some of our best.  So, monthly or so, I will try to post about what we are presently enjoying, what's in season, or an exceptional southern meal we shared the previous weekend.

Each Fall you can't drive southern county roads without smelling fresh green peanuts boiling over a fire.  I've know for a long time that this one is hard to stomach for many who weren't raised around here.  And always assumed it was southern - primarily because visitors who arrived in the Fall rarely tried a second boiled peanut, and many times spit out what they could of the first one. 

But, Linda and I were quite surprised a couple of decades ago, when walking the back streets of Honolulu's Chinatown, to smell the wonderful aroma of green peanuts boiling.  It didn't take long to find the hot kettles full of peanuts with vendors offering a small bag for sale for a dollar or so.  - My first question was how did this little southern delicacy make it's way across the pacific to chinatown?!!

Most of these vendors spoke very little English, and certainly hadn't been to the South.  This started my confusion.  Then, after tasting them I was even more confused.  They were salted very much like Southern boiled peanuts.  They were cooked just a bit less - cooked thru - but what I'd call a bit more al dente.  And they had an addition of a spice that I don't think I had ever tasted.  And, this is hard to admit, they were even better than one of my favorite southern snacks of all time.

Well, through the years, whenever it was Linda's time to choose our vacation spot, she usually chose Honolulu or one of the other beautiful Hawaiian Islands.  And once arriving, we usually headed straight to Chinatown to one of our favorite restaurants in the world - Tochau Vietnamese Restaurant (This one deserves it's own blog post), and immediately finding a vendor with these boiled delicacies to take back to the room (and beach) for a wonderful snack throughout the week.

It was fairly easy to figure out that farmers left china to work on sugar plantations in the beginning of the 20th century.  From here, I'm guessing that boiled peanuts might also be a Chinese delicacy as well, but I don't know.

But, the inspiration for this blog post, was that yesterday, as Linda repeats annually during the fall, she placed green peanuts, water and salt into a crock pot for a days worth of cooking and soaking.  But to my wonderful surprise last night, they smelled and tasted just line our Chinatown version of the delicacy.  She had read somewhere that "Chinese boiled peanuts" contain a couple of star anise.  Wonderful.  It's quite amazing, possibly a first, to see someone one up us on one of our tried and true, passed down through the generations delicacies - but it happened.  I hope I don't get run out for saying this, but Chinese boiled peanuts are even better than ours.  Obviously, this isn't the only time the've whooped up on us.  But, I really don't see it happening often.  -  What could they possibly do to improve on:  crawfish heads, grouper cheeks, greens, cornbread, Tennessee hot fried chicken, Alabama white sauce, mississippi hot tamales . . . .

Robin Wade