Roasted, buttered, boiled – you gotta love goobers! by Bob Karolevitz Phyllis has peanut butter on her toast for breakfast every day.
She tells me it�s good for her, and I say: �Of course it is. After all, peanuts are vegetables, not nuts.�
I explained to her that you�ve got to dig them up � like potatoes � and not pick them off of trees like apples.
Then it seemed like a good time to begin my lecture on George Washington Carver, so assuming my best college professorial pose, I said:
He was born in 1864, the son of a slave. He got his degree from Iowa State before going to Tuskegee Institute in Alabama where he experimented with peanuts until he had something like 300 products made from them.
And that included your breakfast goodies, I said.
He also worked with sweet potatoes � an underground plant, too ��but that�s another story.
Peanuts, I went on, are a healthy snack, full of unsaturated (�good�) fat, magnesium, vitamin E and folate (whatever that is). But she didn�t want all that medical advice. She said that there�s the Reader�s Digest and hospital bulletins for that.
Instead, I continued, this is about goobers and groundnuts which provided a lifetime of labor for George Washington Carver.
I sort of wished I could have visited with him, but he died in 1943. I was getting ready to go into the army then, so I missed my chance.
He could have told me more than I wanted to know about peanuts, how he made ink, dyes, soap, coffee, cheese and lots of other things out of them. He was the Thomas Edison of peanuts, and I�m afraid he doesn�t get all the credit he deserves.
In case you want to know, the peanut plant is a native of tropical South America. It�s mostly grown in the hot climates of the United States, so South Dakota is too far north for it.
Peanuts provide livestock feed and edible oils, too, but in the U.S. the bulk of them find their way into candy, bakery goods and the butter which Phyllis likes for her toast. They are also good with beer!
In the Deep South boiled peanuts are a treat. When Phyllis and I were meandering cross-country down there, we saw lots of kettles bubbling in roadside stands.
�What�s that?� I wanted to know, so we stopped to find out.
�Haven�t you had bil�d peanuts before?� an overalled concessionaire asked, looking at us northerners like we were visitors from another planet.
And so we bought some of the soggy goobers to go with out cans of Billy Beer. At first they tasted awful, but then they grew on us, and before long we were munching away like long lost Confederates.
Incidentally, Phyllis now belongs to the Peanut Butter Lovers Fan Club. You qualify if you are guilty of one or more of the following:
? Raiding the pantry/refrigerator for peanut butter at all hours of the night or day.
? Hoarding secret supplies of peanut butter in places including desk and sock drawers.
? Trying to talk/whistle with peanut butter stuck to the roof of your mouth.
But I digress!
After all, George Washington Carver was really the subject of this column, so it�s only fitting that we should give him his due.
But Phyllis and her buttered toast be danged. I prefer my peanuts salted with a schooner or two � and George didn�t have anything to do with that.
� 2004 Robert F. Karolevitz