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October 22, 2005
A Yankee in Gooberville
In the Southern United States the word "goober" is understood to be the regional term for a peanut. The term is also used by non—Southerners to describe the residents of the South. Most Southerners are not offended by this title, and quite a few of us wear this badge with pride.
Given that, it was my great honor to receive an old acquaintance as a guest in my Deep South home this past weekend. My friend is a Yankee, one who repeats many of the stereotypical jibes concerning the area and its residents. Of course, this humor is all good fun and leaves no one offended. But, an incident occurred during the drive from the airport which provided my friend with more ammunition to add to his arsenal of unfavorable characterizations.
An old rickety van was parked, as usual, underneath the bridge of the bypass which leads to my home. The van belongs to a man calling himself Smitty, and for years Smitty has been selling boiled peanuts and fresh tomatoes. The sign which advertised Smitty's wares is what caught my friend's attention: BOILED PEANUT.
'What is it with you guys in the South?' he asked.
Not having a clue as to what he was talking about, I answered with a dumbfounded, 'What?'
'Shouldn't that sign read BOILED PEANUTS plural and not a singular BOILED PEANUT?' he responded. 'Who eats boiled peanuts anyways?'
After hearing that last question, I decided it was time to educate my friend in the virtues of boiled peanuts and pulled my vehicle to the side of the road. My acquaintance was very agreeable about receiving this lesson in Southern cuisine; it was obvious to me that his 'peanut flight' didn't provide him with enough sustenance, and that he was just hungry.
We approached Smitty's stand and noticed locally—produced honey, pickled corn and okra, and tomatoes for two dollar a basket. Off to the side were two propane heated cauldrons of boiling peanuts. I asked Smitty's mate (Smitty was busy with another customer) for two one—scoop bags.
She asked, "Regular or Cajun?" I turned to my friend and he heartily responded, 'Cajun!' We paid the two dollars asked and drove off. During the ride home we ate these wonderfully spiced delights and tossed the shells out the window.
The next morning my friend was in an excellent mood.
'I feel like a new man!' he exclaimed.
'Why is that?' I wondered aloud.
'Those peanuts affected my body is a wonderful way,' explained my friend. 'I was thinking that old Smitty needs to replace his 'Boiled Peanut' sign with 'Smitty's Wholesome Purgative '
'Welcome to the South, my friend,' I responded. 'Welcome to the South.'
Eric Schwappach 10 22 05