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Going Nuts

Toasted_Peanut_in_Shell

The place was Duffy Street Seafood in Myrtle Beach. My 12-y.o. son stared at me from across the table, as his older brother and I munched peanuts from the beach sand bucket in the table center.

“Dad, what do peanuts taste like?”

I didn’t know what to say. I love peanuts and my older son has been a peanut butter sandwich connoisseur since he was a toddler. However, my younger son had a mild allergic reaction to peanuts back when he was in day care. It was treatable with OTC medication. My wife and I kept peanuts away from him. We thought for a while that our fears were overblown, but another incident a few years later confirmed it. Again, easily treatable, but a concern.

The truth is that his allergy isn’t severe. He can touch peanuts without a reaction. He just can’t eat them. People have suggested we have him tested, to see if there’s a limit or it was a kid thing. We haven’t yet. Two bouts with peanuts butter. Two reactions.

But how to answer his question?

I’m a writer I told myself. I’m used to describing things that can’t be seen. I try to incorporate all five senses in my writing. But on this one, I wasn’t sure what to say.

He could smell them. Would that be enough? I could tell him they’re salty, and that he’ll want to drink water if he eats peanuts (intimating that they’re kind of like potato chips.)

I could tell him that eating one isn’t enough (again, a potato chip reference). I could tell him they have almost no taste, but that doesn’t say anything. Peanuts are something that can be eaten by themselves. They’re not like tofu or grits, where they acquire the flavor of whatever is placed with them.

What would you say? How would you explain to a kid what a peanut tastes like?

Adding in a picture from Myrtle Beach (though it has nothing to do with Duffy Street Seafood).

Family 06-30-2014

Peanut picture courtesy of http://ed101.bu.edu/StudentDoc/Archives/ED101fa08/mbg/Intro.html .

New Casual_Resized

 

Walt Mussell primaily writes historical fiction with inspirational and romantic elements. His favorite setting is medieval Japan and he refers to his writing as “Like ‘Shogun,’ but the heroine survives.” He also writes Biblical fiction and is working on a manuscript with a 19th century American setting. He has one published novella in the Christmas anthology, Hot Cocoa for the Heart.

 

Marilyn Baron - July 14, 2014 - 1:15 am

Walt,
I was born without a sense of smell, so i couldn’t describe how peanuts smell but I wish I could. I love peanuts and foods with peanuts in them so I’m sorry your son isn’t able to taste them. I guess I would say they’re salty but your potato chip references were really inspired.
Marilyn

Carol Burnside / Annie Rayburn - July 14, 2014 - 2:09 am

Geez, that’s a tough one. I would tell him they taste like they smell, but they’re not salty to me in their raw form.

Sandy Elzie - July 14, 2014 - 7:04 am

Very interesting to think about. (like describing a sunrise to someone who’s blind)

Is it just peanuts?? or all nuts? If he can eat raw almonds, then he’d have a point of reference for texture.

Love the picture…beautiful family you have there.

Pam Asberry - July 14, 2014 - 8:24 am

The great Vladimir Ashkenazy once said, “If you try to put into words what music is trying to say, then you have words, not music.” Maybe the same applies to what peanuts taste like. I guess you do the best you can with the words, and then leave the rest to your son’s imagination.

Walt Mussell - July 14, 2014 - 8:44 am

Marilyn,

I didn’t know you had no sense of smell. There’s a whole post in how that would challenge a writer.

Walt Mussell - July 14, 2014 - 8:46 am

Carol,

I think we could let him smell a big bag and that might be fine. Like, I mentioned he can touch them without problem.

Walt Mussell - July 14, 2014 - 8:51 am

Sandy,

I had similar thoughts along what you suggest. I remember watching the movie Mask, the story of a boy born with a badly disfigured face. During the movie, he goes to camp and falls in love with a blind girl. He tries to describe colors to her, and ends up using temperature. Cold items are blue. Red items are hot. Warm items are pink.

Walt Mussell - July 14, 2014 - 8:51 am

Pam,
That sounds logical. Describing them takes away their taste.

Piper - July 14, 2014 - 9:19 am

Walt,

I have no idea, but I wonder what your 12 year old said. They are still in a position at that point to admire the things that you say. Did he believe in your answer to him?

Connie Gillam - July 14, 2014 - 10:26 am

I asked my family members to describe the taste of peanuts. (My house is loaded with people this week.) “Peanuts taste like peanut butter,” the response from my seven-year-old granddaughter.
“They are crunchy, salty, and taste like a peanut,” the response from her grandfather.

So you see, it’s a hard nut to describe. Good luck with that one, Walt. I’m sorry your son is missing out on the taste. I love peanuts.

Tamara LeBlanc - July 14, 2014 - 10:47 am

Loved this post, Walt, and the pic. That’s a really good question…what DO peanuts taste like? Salty is good, but I eat them without salt. They have a slight crunch while still being tender. They taste like summer and go great with beer. That’s not very helpful, but it’s a tough question :)

Have a great week!
Tamara

Walt Mussell - July 14, 2014 - 11:23 am

Piper,
I actually came up with my analogies after the fact. Just trying to figure out a way to help him understand.

Walt Mussell - July 14, 2014 - 11:25 am

Connie,
I agree. Explaining the taste is a tough nut to crack. (Sorry for the pun. Couldn’t resist.)

Walt Mussell - July 14, 2014 - 11:27 am

Tamara,

I have a feeling that my 12-y.o. will eventually try beer, though I don’t know when. Hopefully, it’s an antidote. :-)

Sandy Elzie - July 14, 2014 - 3:05 pm

Hey Walt,
I asked my husband and he said to have him eat Gabonzo beans while with his nose near a peanut butter jar. That’s texture and smell.

You might want to try that yourself and see if it comes anywhere near what a peanut tastes like.

Walt Mussell - July 14, 2014 - 6:12 pm

Sandy,

I just mentioned your idea to my son. It looks like I’ll have to try it for him, as you suggest. Thanks. :-)

Maxine Davis - July 14, 2014 - 7:26 pm

Hi Walt, Leave it to kids to ask questions that are hard to answer. I kind of like the “smell them and eat Garbonzos.” Maybe have him tested? Or just tell him they taste horrible :)

Walt Mussell - July 14, 2014 - 10:54 pm

Maxine,

We will eventually have him tested. However, the “horrible” won’t work as he sees me chowing on them often.

Debbie Kaufman - July 15, 2014 - 12:05 pm

My younger son turned out to be allergic to all nuts, as well as almost everything else on the planet. Therefore almond butters, etc. weren’t something he could use. He ended up using Sunbutter instead, a sunflower seed alternative. I recently found Biscoff Spread. OMgoodness, it should be illegal.

Walt Mussell - July 15, 2014 - 4:29 pm

Debbie, thankfully, he isn’t as allergic as that. I’m still looking at the garbonzo bean suggestion. My son is saying to me, “you first.” :-)

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