Fall and winter are hiking season for Chris and me. Freed of my ophidiophobia (yeah for hibernation), not to mention Sunday market, we scour the surrounding counties afoot, bundled and tobogganed, a sack full of odd foods that qualify both as light (weight-wise) and filling (tummy-wise), and we intended to begin our season a few weeks ago at the Georgia commencement of the Appalachian Trail near Dahlonega.
But we were distracted. The first of many roadside apple stands offering fried pies, cider doughnuts, bushels of dozens of apple-ly shades, and*sigh*boiled peanuts was cause for a turn about. We bought a gallon of pulpy cider (the good, unfiltered sort with matter suspended at jug bottom), one of the doughnuts, one fried peach pie (who thought that they’d offer peach in autumn at an apple stand?); a half bushel of Pink Ladies; and a sack of their boiled peanuts.
Now, just to be clear: Chris and I adore boiled peanuts. It’s true, for years we resisted. All through grad school as our South Carolinian friend Joel raved of their goodness, we turned up our noses. To be fair, the canned versions lurking in the canned vegetable aisle—and the only kind Chris and I had tasted—are poor representatives, leaning more on their legume heritage than their nutty nature. But good boiled peanuts are a unique experience, as authentically snacky as potato chips but paired with the feel-good warmth of a shot of whisky. And then there’s the shelling: sucking the spicy juice from them, tossing them on the ground or out the window—an inherent dose of relaxation in the whole process, like pinching Royal Reds from their tails at a beach bar.