Yesterday I took a drive through Conyers, Ga on the way to see some friends. While I absolutely did *not* need any produce, I couldn’t pass this shop without stopping in.
He had all of the critical elements for a roadside stand in the Southeast: CocaCola signs, Vidalia Onions, Corn, Watermelons, and those must-stop items … Tomatoes and Cantalopes that had not seen the inside of a refrigerator. I mean really … these are the reasons we stop. We can get Vidalias and cleaner, crisper lettuce at our local grocery store, but real tomatoes and cantalopes are impossible there. I’m convinced it’s because all the produce is shipped to stores in refrigerated trucks, and any temps below 50 degrees Fahrenheit kill all that is good in a tomato or a cantalope.
He had bunnies in cages at kid-friendly heights, and floral baskets that seemed to be more of a splash of color in the scene than an item for sale. I started out with my camera, so he might not have realized I was really going to be a customer. For a Southerner, he was a little abrupt when he asked if he could help me. I assured him I wasn’t leaving without a pile of those good-looking tomatoes and he relaxed a bit.
I had my watermelon, cantalope, and tomatoes bagged up, and was taking the last picture of baskets on the ceiling when I spotted the Boiled Peanut Pot. What was I thinking? OF COURSE he had boiled peanuts … this was the Perfect Southeastern Roadside Market. It would have been blasphemy to skip the peanuts.
For those that haven’t experienced boiled peanuts … the key is to think of them as beans, rather than nuts … which is closer to the truth of them. Green peanuts are boiled with an unimaginable amount of salt for several hours, and in the end, you have semi-soggy little packets of salty beans to eat. They are usually served warm, and I love them, even though I know my rings will be tight the next day. Truth be told, I don’t love them enough to make them at home, but it’s part of the roadside market experience, and I was going for the whole package. Next week I’ll leave Georgia for the year, and I’ll soon be eating Jersey corn and tomatoes, and New York cheeses.
Life is good.