When I was growing up, we would often buy peanuts raw and cook them ourselves. We had a big, heavy pan we used, setting them out on it and roasting them in the oven. If you cook them too long, they get burned and are too dry. If you don’t cook them long enough, they are green and taste it. Cook them the right amount of time and they are just right for kids running loose while the parents played forty two with other adults.
I recall a song of my youth which related to the peanut. Join in singing if you know it. “Eating goober peas, eating goober peas. Goodness how delicious, eating goober peas.” For those who never heard the term, “goober peas” are peanuts. The song is mainly sung in the South, and was popular with Confederate soldiers. Peanuts were key to the survival of many who felt the hardships of that war. Tennessee Ernie Ford sang the song, and that’s who I recall singing it in my youth. Pop singer Elton John sometimes sings it in his shows.
George Washington Carver had many inventions and discoveries, but he is perhaps best known for creating peanut butter. Born in the waning days of the Civil War, he would become a leader in figuring out ways to fully use the peanut, the soybean, and cotton. He had over 100 recipes for using peanuts as food, and another 100 ways to use peanuts to make other products, such as dyes, paints, and cosmetics. I can’t imagine what make-up made from peanuts would smell like, but I’m certain it would taste better than the perfumed make-up women typically use.
After the Civil War, the Carver family, which owned as slaves the young boy and his older brother, raised them as their own sons. They encouraged his education and his interest in science. He got an education and worked diligently to bring science to farming, urging crop rotations and enriching the soil with nitrogen through such efforts, long before the dust bowl would appear in the 1920s.
What would a Snickers candy bar be without the peanut? A Chuckle? What would a caramel popcorn ball be without the occasional peanut? They’re good with ice cream. They’re good with cola. They’re good with milk. By the 12 ounce can, they’re 2000 calories. But seventeen of them make a tasty treat of only 50 calories. I know because I did the math, after counting the number in a 12 ounce can and dividing by the total calories in the can.
The second peanut song of my youth was not as amusing as the goober peas song. It was monotonous the way “Ninety Nine Bottles of Beer” is monotonous. “Found a peanut, found a peanut, found a peanut just now. I just now found a peanut, found a peanut just now.” This is the kind of song kids sing in the backseat on a long trip, driving mom and dad crazy in the process. It is so annoying, so repetitious, and says so little. Even now, it annoys me to think of it attached to my all time favorite legume. But the delicious little “nut” which it honors is always number one in my book.
© 2012, Jim “Pappy” Moore,
All Rights Reserved.
Jim “Pappy” Moore is a native son of East Texas who still makes the piney woods his home. firstname.lastname@example.org