boiled peanuts

my family and i have been driving to the south for our vacations all my life.  when i was a small child the beginning of the month of may every year would see us loaded into our VW "squareback", cat and dog as well, and driving from michigan to south carolina for a month at the beach.  this was my parent's way of combining vacation with extended family visits-- we were surrounded by cousins and aunts once we made it to the beach.  at some point deep into the south, almost to our destination, we would  stop at a roadside stand and buy a big bag of boiled peanuts.  all conversation would cease and we, my mother, father, brother, and i, would all dig in and eat peanuts like we hadn't eaten in days.  by the time we arrived at the beach there would be a large bag of shells, and all of our fingers were covered in a salty brine left over from our feast.

these days my daughters and i drive to mississippi and alabama, and we know exactly at what point to start looking for peanut stands.  there will be a pick-up truck and a market tent-- and a few stands of vegetables.  in the back of the pick-up truck will be two large metal pots-- one for salty peanuts and one for cajun-spiced peanuts (a variation not so common in south carolina and georgia).  we choose the salt and a few pounds of peanuts-- still steaming from the pot-- are measured into a scale.  we happily munch our way through the rest of our long journey to the beach.



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