Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, June 17, 2017, 9:34 a.m.
This weekend I have in my possession one of those foods that Southerners consider delicacies and those from other places dismiss as gross, tasteless, backward, and lacking in redeeming value, social or otherwise.
I don’t often buy them. I prefer to, uh, boil them myself. I am a certified boiled-peanuts chef. I once studied under my grandfather, who ran a grocery store. Grocery stores were once the centers of boiled-peanuts learning.
On one of those rare days when the produce department at Bi-Lo has an availability of green peanuts – ripe ones won’t work – I greedily scoop a weekend’s supply into one of those cellophane bags that take five minutes to unfold, and head home a happy man.
Occasionally, I buy some boiled peanuts at a baseball game. I rather like the Cajun-spiced ones. In general, though, my problem with “store-bought” boiled peanuts is that they are soggy. It’s one of those natural consequences of modernity. The sublime boiled peanuts of my youth were ruined by plastic bags.
Dutton’s Grocery — which inexplicably had Dutton’s Market on the sign after Granddaddy painted the whole outside in a combination of bright and pale orange, oh, in about 1969 or ’70, thereabouts — sold boiled peanuts. In those days, they were sold in small, tan paper bags. If soggy peanuts were placed in those bags, the bottoms fell out. Hence, we had to drain the peanuts before we bagged them.
Granddaddy would get on one side of a huge vat of boiling peanuts, grasp a handle with one gloved hand and place the other under the vat, while I, oh, 12 years old or so, would do the same on the other side. We then hoisted the container and dumped its contents into a basin in the store’s back room, the same location where chickens were chopped, bologna sliced and steak cubed.
Scalding was a possibility. That never stopped us. Neither of us, nor anyone else who worked there, ever got scalded, at least not during my youth.
We let the peanuts cool and drain for a few hours. Then I sat on a high stool in front of the basin and proceeded to bag the peanuts. They were arranged on a cardboard beer flat and placed on the counter, with several reinforcement flats stored in “the cooler” which was one of two refrigeration units, one out front and the other adjoining the back room. As a general rule, the outside cooler contained reinforcements of watermelons and the inside one contained reinforcements of beer.
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges
It is my recollection that a bag of boiled peanuts, at about the turn of the ‘70s, cost slightly less than a pack of cigarettes and slightly more than a Coke. Twenty-five cents.
I still prefer my boiled peanuts drained. They aren’t as messy. Salty water doesn’t leave stains on the front of the shirt. They taste better, or maybe that’s because it’s the way they tasted when I was but a lad.
Those from the non-boiled-peanut states sound almost exactly the way those from the non-grits states sound.
I don’t get it. They’re tasteless. So bland.
My answer is the same. You like potatoes? They’re tasteless, too, until you slather them in butter, salt and pepper, and/or ketchup.
Besides, my buds don’t taste for anyone but themselves.
Ever since I started writing fiction, fans have asked me to write a novel about stock car racing. I kept it a secret while I was working on it. Now it’s out. Lightning in a Bottle is the story of the next big thing, 18-year-old Barrie Jarman.
Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy Cowboys Come Home, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Crazy of Natural Causes, The Intangibles, and/or a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs. They’re all signed and reasonably priced. Lightning in a Bottle will be in stock shortly.
Signed copies of Lightning in a Bottle are also available at Emma Jane’s, 105 East Main Street on the Square, Clinton.
If you’d like me to ship you a signed copy, you can find my address and instructions here. If you want to speed the process up, send me a note and I’ll hook you up with my PayPal account.
Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Links to print copies are below.
Cowboys Come Home is my brand-new, fresh-off-the-press western, a tale of two World War II veterans of the Pacific who come back home to Texas, intent on resuming their cowboy ways.
Forgive Us Our Trespasses is a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.
Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.
The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.
The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.
Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.
Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).