boiled-pnutsI brake for boiled peanuts.

You can, too, more than 7300 feet above sea level along Montana’s Beartooth Highway. Come see me this summer in Silver Gate, Montana, right outside the northeastern corner of Yellowstone National Park.

While I was growing up in central Georgia, Sunday drives in the country were always accompanied by boiled peanuts bought from a roadside stand. Usually the sign read “Boiled P’nuts,” often with the “S” backwards. Back in the car, windows rolled down, I couldn’t crack the salty snacks fast enough. Coke in a can washed them down, and I threw the shells out the window as we cruised past pecan orchards and chicken warehouses.

Today I own and operate an art gallery, fly shop, southern BBQ joint and boiled peanut stand in Silver Gate, population 13.  Winter rages for nine months of the year, but after Memorial Day explorers from all over the world converge on the crown jewel of our national parks.

Just a bit outside Yellowstone’s northeastern gate is my sign: “Boiled P’nuts.” Southerners can’t believe their eyes. A little bit of home-to-go, only $3 a bag. Europeans are curious but usually love them after one bite. (One kid from southern Poland thought the perfect combo was a bag of the goobers and a Moose Drool beer.) Midwesterners, on the other hand, are grossed out.

Boiled peanuts, also known as goober peas, have been a Southern tradition for decades. Confederate soldiers, who had little else to eat at the end of the Civil War, even sang about them:

img_3831Sitting by the roadside on a summer’s day
Chatting with my mess-mates passing time away
Lying in the shadows underneath the trees
Goodness how delicious eating goober peas.

Peas, peas, peas, peas
Eating goober peas
Goodness how delicious
Eating goober peas.

When a horse-man passes, the soldiers have a rule
To cry out their loudest, ‘Mister, where’s your mule?’
But another custom, enchanting-er than these
Is wearing out your grinders, eating goober peas.

Just before the battle, the General hears a row
He says ‘The Yanks are coming, I hear their rifles now.’
He looks down the roadway and what d’you think he sees?
The Georgia Militia cracking goober peas.

I think my song has lasted just about enough.
The subject’s interesting but the rhymes are mighty rough.
I wish the war was over so free from rags and fleas
We’d kiss our wives and sweethearts, say good-bye to goober peas.

elevationToday the peanuts are hot in Montana, the snow is melting, bison are feeding, and travelers are glad to have a bag of Goober Peas for their ride into Yellowstone. If you can’t make it to Silver Gate, here’s a simple boiled peanut recipe for a crockpot:

Fill the container ¾ of the way with raw green peanuts, pour 1/3 to ½ cup of salt over the top and then fill with water.  Start the process with the device on high.  The peanuts will soak up a generous portion of water in the first three hours.  After a few hours add more water and stir well, folding the nuts on top to the bottom.  Next, turn the cooker down to low, let cook approximately 12 hours until you have a soft nut inside the shell resembling a salty black-eyed pea.

Then all you have to do is enjoy them just like we do at 7389 feet.

###
Christopher Burdette

Christopher Burdette

Owner of Sun Dog Trading Co. a unique art gallery/fly fishing store/BBQ and hot dog joint at NE corner of Yellowstone National Park. "No rubber tomahawks" is our motto.

14 Comments
  1. Terri Evans

    So glad you’re sharing this fine Southern cuisine with travelers from around the world, and appreciative that you’ve shared your crock pot recipe as well. Maybe those gigantic, blackened pots with the murky salty water is the true melting pot.

  2. Susan Soper

    Christopher…you should add “and I write, too” to that list of things you’ve got going on out there. Sounds like a great lifestyle. Glad to know what you’re up to!
    Susan

  3. Excellent, CB. I’ll just add that readers who come see you at Yellowstone’s NE gate can also get a buffalo bratwurst and a good book, like Hawk’s Rest or Dancing at the Rascal Fair. And if they’re lucky, meet your big-eyed daughter, Dallas Scout.

  4. Christopher, Great job on the writing. It made my mouth water!!! I can smell’em now………..POP-POP

  5. You’ve hit a nerve for any Southerner raised on this particular delicacy. It’s one of those memory foods which brings back sultry, humid summer joys with peanut boils in neighborhoods and gorging on pindars (another southernism) which went well as a kid with any icy Coca Cola but even better as an adult with an icy brewski. Truly a “betcha can’t eat just” category.
    And as a newbie asked me once, “Are these fattening?”, my stock answer was “what do you think they herd the pigs to forage before slaughter?”…
    Keep spreading the word and keep eating those goobers! Yum….And if you’re really desperate out-of-season, buy the dried green peanuts, soak them and boil away!!

  6. Being a somewhat cloistered Southerner, I have never been to Yellowstone. But if and when Anne and I make it to Big Sky Country, we will be sure to check in for some fly-fishing gear (me), some art work (Anne) and some “redneck caviar” (both of us!) Great write-up, Christopher, and best of luck to you in your mountain aerie!

    Peter Davis

  7. You don’t have to be a southerner to be gonzo for peanuts! I was raised in Montana but I’ve thought of relocating to Georgia for access to fresh peanuts. Great article Christopher. Neat to hear some of the history and culture behind this. And if I can get over to the park for some goober peas! If not I’ll try your recipe.

  8. Nice writing Burdette. I hope some day to be able to visit you and try them out for myself!

  9. Mary Kay Andrews

    Wow, Christopher. Like it or not, I think you’re kinda edging into the family bidness. Great article! I’m trying to get Tom to book us a fly-fishing trip to Montana. He can fish and eat boiled p’nuts. I’ll do what I do best. Nuthin’.

  10. Way to go Bro!!. I could use a good bag right now. Was 140 here yesterday. First time all my years that i have vomited from just heat. I promise thta soon enough we will share a bag and a pbr. Kickkick the kid for me and feed the bears.

    h

  11. And they say that rednecks can’t write.I will visit this summer and try them myself. Marty

  12. This makes my mouth water, and I will be there soon before you change your sign from $2 to $3. In the meantime, where do I get green peanuts outside of Georgia.

  13. You rock, Pete. I’d love some boiled p’nuts in Silver Gate right now!

  14. I used to work with a woman from the Philippines who introduced me to a bunch of her native foods to try and freak me out. She was sure I’d flip when she brought in boiled peanuts. Everyone else in the office did, but it was a beautiful cross-cultural bonding moment for the two of us. They weren’t salty like the Southern recipe, but I’ve never heard of anyone from anywhere else eating them at all. I’m sure travelers from all over the world are enjoying getting a taste of honest-to-goodness Southern Americana. Makes me wish for a trip to Silver Gate right now.

    Great article — good luck with the goober peas!

Comments are closed.