There is an editorial every month, written by Rick Bragg, on the back page of Southern Living magazine. He always does a really great job. This time around he wrote about the differences between people in the north and people in the south- focusing on our love for the wonderful tomato sandwich, versus the lack of this delicious gastronomic experience above the Mason/Dixon line. I agree that they are amazing- with their salty, juicy, drippy, acid/sweet, mayonnaisey greatness, between two slices of fresh white bread- they are definitely yummy. In fact, I love tomato sandwiches so much that I have posted messages on Face Book about them. I even wrote a grandiose and silly tomato sandwich poem one time. Anyhow, after I read the article I got to thinking about other things that are different down here where we live, compared to the northern states- or all of the rest of the states, or maybe even the rest of the world. And that’s when I thought about boiled peanuts, and a funny situation that happened a long, long time ago.
Back when I was just out of high school, there was an Ohio evangelist and his wife whom we scheduled to hold a week long revival at our church. The man had sent a letter to our pastor with the proposal of holding services whenever we would like. They pulled their travel trailer onto a space of lawn between the church and the parsonage, almost a month after our pastor made the arrangements for them to come.
My dad, my sister, and I went to the first installment of the revival the following night, on a Monday. The evangelist delivered a good message, and I think his wife sang and maybe he did chalk art- not sure (I wish that I could remember their names). After the service, we were all standing around, shooting the breeze, and getting to know the friendly, Bible thumping couple a little better. That’s when my dad asked the evangelist if he could bring him and his wife some boiled peanuts tomorrow, as he had just cooked up a fresh batch the night before.
“Boiled PEANUTS! What is THAT? I’ve had them parched and salted and raw, but never BOILED! Really? Are you pulling my leg?”
“Nope,” said dear old Dad. “I’ll bring you some, and I can guarantee that you’ll like them.”
Well, Dad made good on his promise and delivered a ziplock bag full the the salty, runny, wondrous Southern treats to them the next morning- my dad standing on the thin iron steps of the home on wheels as the evangelist stood at the open door; accepting the gift with much apprehension, but willing to try them, at least. They talked there for a few minutes at that same door (“I know you’re gonna like ’em. Let me know what you and your wife think.”), smiled and said their thank-yous and goodbyes, and then Dad was on his way.
That night at the revival, a few minutes before things got started, Dad was anxious to see how well the two evangelists had enjoyed the new experience. He just knew they had been crazy over something so tasty.
“Well. . . they weren’t the best things that I ever had, but I guess they were alright,” the evangelist said, trying to sound half-way positive. “They were a little crunchier than I had expected. In fact, they were a lot crunchier that I had expected.”
“Crunchy? What do you mean?” asked my dad.
“Well, when I tried them, the shells were harder to eat than I thought they would be. I tried about three or four, but they just didn’t get any better.”
Yes, the evangelist had consumed the boiled peanuts whole. Dad did not think to fully explain when he presented them earlier that same day. He thought it was obvious not to eat the shells, I guess.
“No. No. No. You have to crack them open with your teeth and only eat the part that’s on the inside,” Dad told him.
He never could convince the evangelist to try them again the right way. His wife didn’t even try them the first time- she was basically repulsed by the notion.
But, at least Dad attempted to win them over to the idea. Sometimes you just can’t convert the ignorant with the truth. Hopefully, the evangelist made a convert or two. . . hopefully.