by Kate Heyhoe
by Kate Heyhoe
Yankees call them peanuts. Southerners call them "goobers" or "goober peas," derived from the African word nguba. Peanuts are native to South America, but they made their way to North America via Africa, courtesy of the Spanish and Portuguese explorers of the 16th century.
In Africa, the peanut plant took root, so to speak, and the African slaves who had learned how to cultivate and cook with this rich, nutritious food carried the peanut plant with them to the Southern plantations. Even though the plantation owners initially rejected peanuts as merely pig fodder and poor men's food, the African-American slaves harvested peanuts in their own gardens and before long, they were roasting peanuts in the kitchens of their masters' houses. If you've ever smelled the aroma of fresh roasted peanuts, you'll understand how easy it was to convert the entire South to becoming peanut lovers. Later, Dr. George Washington Carver helped develop the peanut into a prosperous industry that helped replace the cotton industry and offered nourishment to people around the world.
Peanuts are actually legumes (as in beans and peas) and not nuts at all. The British call them groundnuts because after flowering, the plants bend over and bury their flower stems in the soil, where the fruit pods we know as peanuts develop. If you can find raw, unshelled peanuts, roast them in your home oven for a warm, satisfying snack, perfect for munching on during ball games with an ice cold brew. (Be sure to keep a vacuum cleaner handy—the shells can get messy.)
To make hot, fresh roasted peanuts, you need:
2 pounds raw peanuts, in the shell
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the peanuts evenly on a baking sheet, in a single layer. Roast about 20 minutes, or until the peanuts are thoroughly cooked and aromatic. Test for doneness by tasting one. Serve warm in the shell, or cool before serving.
This page created January 2000
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