As we come to the close of National Peanut Month, we are sharing a few peanut memories from America’s hottest chefs. We reached out to them to ask why they love peanuts and what their favorite memory of America’s favorite nut is.
Pichet Ong, James Beard-Nominated Pastry Chef and Restaurateur
“It’s funny with peanuts because it’s a full circle for me. I grew up eating peanuts, but not the kind of peanuts that most people think about. They’re boiled peanuts—fresh peanuts that have been picked when they’re in season, and then boiled, typically served with stewed duck that’s braised in soy sauce and five spice. We used to have more peanuts around the house at any given time because my parents told me it’s [nutritious], it’s flavorful and it’s also inexpensive.
Now, I’ve been in New York for 20 years, but I’ve been traveling a lot through the South, and also with my Mum, and we see them all over the South. And also when in season, they also boil them and serve them with different things, from dessert to escabeche, which I had at Fig restaurant in Charleston. So apparently it’s a very common ingredient that’s also used in a very unique way from what most people have come to understand.”
Tenoch Ang, Chef/Kitchen Supervisor at The Salvation Army
“I belonged to a poor family in the Philippines when I was a boy. During those times, chocolates and candies from America were very expensive for my mom to buy for us.
As a kid, there were days that I will be playing with children of rich neighbors, who will be carrying with them Reese’s peanut butter cups. These goodies were bought from PX stores, or from U.S. Naval bases located near the city. I remember feeling so envious, imagining how delicious those candies from America were. I will then beg my mom to buy some for me too.
Because of our family’s financial status, my mom couldn’t afford to buy us the peanut butter cups. So what I would do was to go to the pantry and sneak out a bottle of locally produced peanut butter. I would fill up ice cube trays with peanut butter and put it in the freezer. I and my siblings would then eat them when it is firm enough, looking like the real peanut butter cups.
To this day, I still cherish this childhood memory of mine, now that I am a resident and citizen of America, where peanut butter and peanut butter cups are in abundance and in varieties.”
Saidah Farrell, Pastry Chef at The Sugar Peddler
“We were learning about nutrition in first grade (wow that was nearly 35 years ago) and what would be a good healthy snack. The nutritionist leading the class gave us a recipe for peanut butter balls. We took the peanut butter and mixed it with honey and rolled them into little round treats. That first bite was the best! I don’t know if it was the sense of accomplishment that I made the snack myself or if it was the combination of the honey, peanut, salty combination. This quickly became my preferred method of how to eat a peanut butter sandwich, until I discovered peanut butter, honey and fluff!”