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After the harvest and mid-winter holidays, it's always nice to take a little road trip. A week or two of travel helps to keep the place you call "home" in perspective.

sonomapicnic.com would like to invite you, the reader, to take advantage of this space to share your picnic discoveries with the rest of us. Send notes and color photocopies (no original photos or cards, please) to:

The Editor
sonomapicnic.com
709 Fitch St.
Healdsburg, CA 95448
e-mail: chefjack@sonomapicnic.com


Central Florida Roadside Snack Traditions

by Jack Burton

Living, as I do, in the heart of Sonoma County's bountiful farm, ranch and vineyard country, there are few culinary delights that are not readily at hand. I mean, if there is something that is not grown or prepared here, it's conveniently imported for us. We really have an amazing amount of choices, but there is one thing I have yet to see here and that is a Hot Boiled Green Peanut stand.

I may have missed something in my travels. There may be an old landmark boiled peanut stand around here somewhere. If there is anyone out there boiling peanuts, I hope someone will write or e-mail and clue me in.

Selling hot boiled peanuts by the side of the road is a way to make a piece of money with only a smidgen of investment up front. All that is required is a little fire, a pot, some salt (or not), water, peanuts, and some recycled plastic bags. You must also possess the ability to sit for hours on end in a lawn chair waiting for someone who has a hankering for a sack of humid and slippery goobers. It is probably not as easy as it looks!

The peanut vendors I know best have staked their claims to choice locations along the state and county roads of rural Citrus and Sumter Counties near where my mom lives in Central Florida. I hope if you get down that way you will stop and say hello to them.

   
Kathy at Bevilles Corners, junction of State Route 48 and County Road 471 in Sumter County, south-west of Leesburg and just north of the town of Webster, home to an amazingly huge Monday flea market.
Kathy runs a minimalist operation of a single pot over a scrap-wood fire. This stand has been here for 53 years and is a no-frills, take-it-or-leave-it affair, although they have branched out to selling recycled 55-gallon steel oil drums for $5.00 as well as their heavily salted style of "P-NUTS" for a buck.

Mr. Sam Jackson on old Highway 41 at Lake Lindsey Road in Sumter County.
Perhaps the jolliest of the boiled peanut folk, Mr. Jackson cooks on a propane rig and also sells some very nice things from the big Plant City produce market. You can find him at this abandoned gas station six days a week, and he is one hell of a nice guy!

   
Jim's "Mullet Hut" on State Highway 19 at County Road 480, just south of Crystal River on the gulf coast in Citrus County.
Jim has the most upscale of the operations and does a terrific job with locally caught and smoked mullet fish. He has been at this location for fourteen years, and we never fail to stop when we are over to the coast.

Thurman at the junction of State Highways 44 and 44-A in Sumter County.
Mr. Thurman's got it made in the shade. A man of few words, Thurman spends his work day in an easy chair in the van. He's got him a generator rigged up to power a TV set, and any money that wanders in off the road is just pure gravy.

   
Johnathon at Jake's #2 on State Highway 19 just north of the "Mullet Hut" and south of Crystal River in Citrus County.
Johnathon is a young go-getter! He's getting married to Jake's daughter and I sense a regular P-NUT dynasty is taking shape down here along the quiet backwaters off the beautiful Gulf of Mexico. Not content to just boil 'em and bag 'em, this family will put a little spice and fire in your belly with their trademark Cajun-style and garlic-fried peanuts. Give them a call at 352-564-NUTS (564-6887). They will be happy to deliver!



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