As I continue to experience southern living I am attempting to try many different pieces of the culture. In the five weeks I have lived in South Carolina I have tried to experience the activities, the restaurants, the dialect, the climate, and much more. Today I decided to take a break from my busy Sunday schedule (yeah right) and try the snacks of the south. To get totally equipped for this mission I went to a southern experience all in itself, Piggly Wiggly, to pick up my goods.
Once inside the grocery store I picked up my items. They included a cheese cracker type snack, a soft drink, and a very different take on a type of nut I love. After shelling out the $7 for my “Sunday night taste of the south” I returned home and after conducting my own little mini photo shoot I went to work on taste testing the items. This evening I wish to share with you the fun time I had tasting cheese straws, Cheerwine, and boiled peanuts. Are these three items really representative of the snacking culture in the south? Not exactly, but they all do hold a rather big part. Furthermore, each item has a personal story relating to why I chose it which I will share right before I express my thoughts on how it tasted.
The Story: Our media relations and publications director at Coastal Carolina University was telling us at lunch a couple weeks ago about the simplicity of Baptists weddings in Conway and the even simpler receptions that followed. Who needs cake? He explained that at many of these receptions back in the day the only item served was a delicacy called cheese straws. I kind of looked at him funny but he wasn’t kidding. When we asked him to describe what a cheese straw was I knew I needed to try it for myself.
The Review: Cheese straws look exactly like crinkle cut French fries. Of course the consistency is much different. Not crunchy like a chip and not soft like a cheese stick, it is pretty much right in the middle. I would say the taste falls right about there too! To me it did taste kind of like a mix between a Cheez-It and a Goldfish cracker. I was a little sketched out before I put it in my mouth but it tasted way better than what it looked like and felt like. However, these things made me thirsty immediately, much more than any cheesy snack out on the market that I have tried. These snacks aren’t bad and I will probably finish the box over time but I probably won’t go out of my way to buy them again.
The Story: This past Friday I was out with my new friend Seth who works in the athletic department at Coastal Carolina. While talking he asked me if I had ever tried Cheerwine before. I made him repeat. When he did I thought he was talking about an alcoholic beverage. Nope, Cheerwine is a very popular soda down south. He said I would need to give it a try and even mentioned that his family had a connection to the popular soft drink.
The Review: I don’t drink soda that much so I am not a worthy critic but I liked Cheerwine. As the name hints at, it is a cherry flavored drink. I found it very smooth and refreshing. You can definitely taste the cherry but it is not as bold as say the orange flavoring in orange soda or the grape flavoring in grape soda. To me it tasted kind of like a much more mellow Dr. Pepper. Every once in a while I do enjoy a soda and this hit the spot.
The Story: When I rolled into South Carolina I started seeing signs on the side of the road advertising boiled peanuts. Boiled peanuts? I had no idea what such a thing was. I absolutely love peanuts so I thought that maybe it would be something that I like. The person I turn to whenever I need southern clarification on what certain things are/where I should eat at/what areas I should visit, Martha Hunn, gave me the lowdown on boiled peanuts and told me I need to try them but that they need to be fresh. She listed a few places that have good boiled peanuts…Piggly Wiggly was not one of them.
The Review: If you thought I was sketched out about trying the cheese sticks then you don’t even want to know what I thought when I opened the can of boiled peanuts. Sitting in a thick liquid I had to pour the contents into a bowl, microwave it for two minutes, drain the liquid, and then “enjoy.” However, like the cheese sticks, I didn’t find them as bad as I thought, although they taste nothing like a traditional peanut. You open up the shell and liquid oozes out. You then eat the boiled nut just as you would a regular peanut. What everyone will tell you is that the texture will throw you off if you are expecting it to resemble a peanut in any way. It is not the least bit hard or crunchy. It is soft and slightly chewy. It has a very salty taste. The smell reminded me of Sunday dinners at my parents house when they would cook green beans. I ate two of the boiled peanuts and then threw the rest out. I think I will stick with traditional peanuts but I will try fresh peanuts from one of the vendors Martha recommended if the opportunity ever presents itself.
What a great excuse to snack, huh? Honestly though, next time I think I rather do it with jalapeno chips and Hoody’s peanuts. But the Cheerwine can stay! Can’t wait to write about my next southern experience. Have a great week everyone. Don’t Blink.