Monday, September 10, 2007


Fresh from China, these two peanut snacks really hit the spot for any nut lover:

The Sweet One:

I'm so sad this regional specialty did not survive the trip across the Pacific. Damn you, baggage handlers! Extremely delicate, this snack is made by folding countless layers of grounded peanut and (brown?) sugar over each other. The intact pieces were faintly sweet and flakier than...well...the flakiest pastry you've ever had. These strips of nutty goodness were capable of wiping away stress, career frustrations, and depression. God damn these were good. The idea of "comfort food" being able to "comfort" used to draw snickers from me, but recently this snack helped me through a very tough time in my life. Well. That sure showed me.

The Spicy One:

These are peanuts roasted with chili peppers, peppercorns that numb/tingle your tongue, salt, and a dash of sugar. At first glance, these nuts look capable of igniting an inferno in your mouth, but they are actually quite light on the spiciness. The chili peppers are not the main players in this recipe. In fact, it is the small little crushed peppercorns commonly used in Schezwan cooking that give these peanuts their character. Yes, you'll feel and taste the peppers' heat, but not as much as you'll feel the light tingle and numbness that sweeps across your mouth from this Schezwan spice. Have a drink of ice cold water after a few bites. The sensation will trigger the nerves in your mouth to fire off signals of pleasure. It's like shooting up, but without the physical addiction or health risk. I can't recall the last time I had so much fun with food.

These two snacks were a real special treat, and I thank my mother for bringing them to the United States after her vacation in China. I don't remember what city these two peanut snacks were from, but it is an eight hour drive from Shanghai.

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