Ode to the conversational nut

Published 10:17 pm Friday, October 9, 2009

Unfortunately, I’ve reached my quota for fests, feasts, and festivals this year. After Taste of Suffolk left my taste buds screaming for more, my waistline has been screaming for mercy. I’ve sadly had to move back up to my big boy belt and the shirts that once fit comfortably are now holding on for dear life. Then I see the photos from the Shrimp Feast this week and start to think, maybe just one more.

Restraint is an amazing thing. It is easy to maintain one’s restraint when thinking about that order of curly fries from Arby’s or an extra scoop of ice cream. But then you see a large box full of fresh, hot shrimp, a mountain of North Carolina barbecue (Have mercy!), fried fish and goodness knows what else.

My mission to exercise my restraint dictates that the closest I should get to the festivities are the pictures taken by the SNH staff.

But in my absence from the rest of this year’s Fests, a giant void to the tune of over 300 lbs. of bald, eating fury will need to be filled now by you good people of Suffolk. The particular fest that is upon us right now is devoted that precious legume, the peanut or goober for those on a first-name basis with the classic snack.

My earliest experiences with the treasured peanut take me back to the place where most of my food adventures began, at home with my mother.

There were just some things in this world that brought my mother joy. And a fresh bag of hulled peanuts late at night was one of them. It was always such an awesome smell, that of peanuts roasting in the oven, and it would sometimes wake me in the night.

We liked them warm but not burnt — as I’ve discovered so many people enjoy — and accompanied by a little mound of salt for dipping. I’ve always thought of them as the conversational nut, because my family always seemed to have our best talks over a pie pan full of peanuts.

As I have grown older, my love of peanuts also has grown, with my discovery of peanut sauce, chopped peanuts in my Thai food, barbecue-flavored snack peanuts and, of course, my developing affinity for good old peanut butter. The rich flavor and crunchy texture of peanuts is one of those simple pleasures that I’m known to speak of from time to time.

I imagine that the only way in which I haven’t enjoyed peanuts, and I may get myself into some trouble here is the South, is boiled. I’ve never tried them but I’m sure I will someday.

Simply put, though, I love peanuts, and I’ve always thought it was neat that Suffolk devotes an entire festival to the goober annually.

So for those who are attending the Peanut Fest this weekend out of a genuine love of peanuts, just know I am right there with you, even if it’s only in spirit. My restraint simply won’t allow this one. But I do have a half-bag of the nuts in my cupboard that I’ll heat up in honor of the festival.

Have fun. Have a peanut.