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Peanut Cheese

from The New Yorker

A CHUNKY HISTORY OF PEANUT BUTTER

Posted by Jon Michaud

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Shipped off to boarding school in England during the Great Depression, the twelve-year-old William F. Buckley, Jr., was sustained by regular care packages from his father. The biweekly deliveries contained a case of grapefruit and a large jar of peanut butter. In a 1981 essay titled “In the Thrall of an Addiction,” Buckley recalled that his British schoolmates “grabbed instinctively for the grapefruit—but one after another actually spit out the peanut butter.” No wonder, he sneered, “they needed help to win the war.”

Half a century later, when I left Washington, D.C., for school in Northern Ireland, I packed my bags with jars of Skippy. Not much had changed. “Mashed peanuts on bread?” my friends in Belfast asked, incredulously—as if peanuts were synonymous with maggots. The American love of peanut butter is as mystifying to many Britons as the British love of Marmite (yeast extract on toast?) is to me, but, as Jon Krampner writes in “Creamy & Crunchy,” his enjoyable and informative new history of peanut butter, there are plenty of other countries that adore the crushed goober pea. Canadians eat it for breakfast; Haitians call it mamba and buy it, freshly pulverized, from street vendors; it is popular in the Netherlands, where it is known as pindakaas, or peanut cheese. Peanut butter is also increasingly found in the Saudi Arabian diet, thanks, in part, to expatriate oil workers. Nevertheless, it remains, in Krampner’s phrase, an “all-American food.”

[ click to continue reading at The New Yorker ]

Posted on December 2, 2012 by Editor

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