Sunday, March 4, 2012

Regional Food Quirks

Banana, mayonnaise and black pepper sandwiches, pouring a bag of peanuts into a bottle of cola, a slice of fresh cornbread eaten with an onion pulled from the garden, spreading grape or strawberry jelly over a sausage biscuit. The quirky things we consume, sometimes in odd combinations, are less of an oddity to people raised in regions where it is acceptable to mix and devour what would appear -- to non-regional folk -- a mishandling of edible delectables.

I posted recently on my Facebook page that I was enjoying a bag of salted peanuts that I’d poured into a bottle of Dr. Pepper, catching and consuming the occasional peanut while I drank. Yes, I know, not groundbreaking news, but my friends in and around the state of North Carolina understood the treat I’d given myself, while my friends in other parts of the nation and the world thought I’d lost my southern mind.

A friend with whom I’d discussed the topic of this column told me recently that he had an out-of-state visitor leave his kitchen because she could not bear to watch someone eat a banana, mayonnaise and pepper sandwich.  

But are we fundamentally that different in some of the foods we eat? Eager to try something I’d never had before, I once ordered scrapple at a diner in Delaware only to taste what we call liver pudding in North Carolina.

What regional foods or unlikely combinations of foods are acceptable cuisine in your area? Have you had someone look at you like like you’d wiggled out of a restraining jacket because of something you were eating? If so, I’d like to hear from you. Leave your responses below or email your food oddities to Perhaps I’ll sample your regional food quirk.

I’m a peanut nut. The local Dollar General store is the cheapest place to buy peanuts in my town. Here's the way I do spicy peanuts.

Wasabi Peanuts

3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons wasabi sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 to 2 teaspoons garlic powder
6 to 8 ounces unsalted peanuts

Pour everything except the peanuts into a sealable container. Shake the container vigorously until all the ingredients are well blended. Add peanuts to the container and shake again to thoroughly coat the peanuts.

Lightly grease a baking pan. Pour the peanuts into the pan; scatter evenly. Bake in 300 degree heated oven for 10 minutes, remove, stir and bake for another 10 minutes.

Ode to the Peanut

Oh lowly pea
masquerading as a nut!
What power
you have over me!

Salty, spicy, bland...
smoothed into butter
slathered in my hand
(if there’s no bread around).

Had I been Eve,
I would’ve chosen you
my diminutive tasty morsel
and not
that pretentious juicy apple!

(With apologies to my Frugal Poet pal, Susan Nelson Myers, who posted an apple butter recipe last week.)



  1. a 50's D.C. thang ... we used to put a nickle-bag of Planter's salt peanuts in a
    bottle of Coke (before they changed/dumbed-down the Coca Cola formula)
    on an hot summer's day ... sure was goooood !

    as for the Dr. Pepper.... nothing like ever replicated that taste of it warmed-up on a stove... Hot Dr. Pepper...

  2. At 10, 2, and 4 . . . it's time for Dr. Pepper!

    We used to have a Dr. Pepper machine in the building where we used in live in Salem, Virginia. It had those little bottles that you don't see any more.

    As for peanuts: my Dad used to make what he called a Tin Roof: vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce, and peanuts.