The fact that I can get locally grown peanuts in New York City never ceases to amaze me. I had to go without them last year because of an exceptionally wet spring. But this year, fresh local peanuts are back in my farmers market, thanks to organic farmers Zaid and Haifa Kurdieh of Norwich Meadows Farm. And that makes me SMILE!
Late last fall, to my great surprise and immeasurable pleasure, my farmer friend Syed brought crates and crates of peanuts to my farmers market from his farm in nearby New Jersey, Lani’s Farm. That’s right. Local peanuts. Fresh from the ground this far north of the Mason Dixon line. They were clumped together and covered in New Jersey dirt, and I couldn’t wait to get them home. I washed them about a dozen times to get them clean, boiled them in salted water, and went to work peeling them. They were so luscious that I hovered over the bowl removing the shells and stuffing my face as fast as I could, undoubtedly looking like someone who hadn’t eaten in days. I returned to Syed’s stand every week to buy a few more pounds until the season ended, when I began immediately to look forward to this year’s crop.
But this year there was no peanut crop. When I asked Syed in midsummer when I could expect the first harvest, he looked at me as if he were about to break my heart. And then he did. The relentless spring rains and soggy fields had put them so far behind in their planting schedule that they never got around to getting the peanut seedlings into the ground. I tried not to look as if I were about to burst into tears, and Syed promised me that he would plant them next year.
I love eating with chopsticks. If I could figure out how to do it, I’d probably eat soup with chopsticks. Maybe – in a previous life – I lived in a land where chopsticks are standard eating utensils. Or maybe I am reminded of the joy I experienced as a child when using chopsticks was still a novelty for me. If you don’t have chopsticks of your own, consider getting a pair and inviting your loved ones to watch the joy – or bemusement – on your face as you use them. And ask them to bring a camera.