Monday, August 15, 2011
Dispatches from Abroad, Part 3: The Fat of the Land
As you know, I have been typing up my dispatches from strange lands lately (part 1, part 2), this should be the last one for a while. I was down in Georgia for a quick day or two and didn't really get to sample to much of the local flavor (although I did get to do Waffle House). However, I did make it a point to get over to a gas station to pick up some examples of indigenous snacks. I find that you can often scare up a little local flair of the processed kind at the local fill 'er up.
Pictured above we have "Tom's Pork Cracklin Strips: Fried out pork fat with attached skin," some "Old Time Fat Back Skins: Like Mama's pan fried," and a sack of "Deep Fried Peanuts: So good you can eat'em SHELL-N-ALL!" In Georgia, they do not futz about when it comes to snacks. Besides a couple brands of pork rinds, you don't really find too many people in Upstate America snacking on crisp, rendered pork fat and skin, now do you?
To tell you the troof, I was not really a fan of the Tom's brand as they were a bit crisp (you would need metal teeth to consume). On the other hand, the fat back skins were down right heavenly. A deep, porky saltiness with a surprisingly light crispness. Every now and then you would even catch a bit of unctuousness among the crispness where a bit of the fried fat back had become rehydrated with its own grease.
Georgians are also very wise in the way of the peanut. Simply roasting and salting are not sufficient cooking methods for our southern brothers. You can find fried peanuts, and my favorite - boiled peanuts. The fried ones are pretty good, you can either shell them or simply pop the thinner skinned ones in your mouth whole. But the real star of the peanut show is the boiled goobers.
Boiled peanuts are pretty ubiquitous at Georgia gas stations. You find them simmering away in crock pots and you scoop them into little styrofoam cups with a slotted spoon. You usually get a little brown paper bag for the shells, this is one of those details that I like. You crack open a soggy shell and you are greeted by a peanut that has absorbed the salty cooking liquid and has become soft and delicious, like a little pellet of fresh peanut butter. A mess of these with a beer or a coke and it just doesn't get much better.
Anyhow, I regretted not exploring a little more of Georgia than I did. Perhaps next time.
Vote For Kyle Kotary, fellow Bethlehemians!