Boiled peanuts aren’t glamorous.
They aren’t trendy or novel or Instagrammable. Stewed in murky brown liquid to a soft yet tender, toothsome texture, they’ll inevitably leave you with dirty hands, salt water dripping down to your elbows, piles of spent shells accumulating on the floor or table in front of you. It’s impossible to look elegant while eating boiled peanuts.
Honestly, that’s a large part of their appeal.
Peanuts are a staple of southern cuisine since the late 1800s.
They are actually from South America, but were brought by slave ships to the United States. They were plentiful, cheap, and suited well to the soils of Virginia. Peanuts were initially considered a food crop for slaves and livestock. However, the Civil War rationing made them a valuable crop for all classes.
It’s unclear why or who started boiling the goobers, but southerns certainly weren’t the first. Boiled Peanuts are a common food in many cultures. Most notably, they’re popular in China, Taiwan, Africa, and other places. It was in Hawaii that I discovered my first boiled peanuts. They are sold in the deli in little styrofoam dishes, which have been chilled and wrapped in shrink wrap.