Three different kinds of peanuts

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Three women carrying food on a plate on their head in Ghana

A loud crack and then he just smiles at me while he is chewing on the crushed shell of the peanuts in his mouth. I love spending time with this friend of mine, he makes all the troubles in the world seem small and he makes all the small everyday things very special. I am not necessarily hungry but while I stand there right next to him, I feel for peanuts as well. ‘Give me one of your groundnuts’, I tell him. He hands me one and says ‘but watch out, they are not cooked’. I didn’t even process what he says, all I do is try to crack the shell in my hands. No wonder he uses his teeth, I think to myself. He surely sees my struggle, cracks one open for me and pours the three little peanuts into my hand. I throw one of them in my mouth, chew on it and then realize what he meant – it is actually an uncooked peanut. While I try to taste all the flavors of this hard, green tasting nut, I realize how ignorant I have always been towards peanuts. I never expected that the ones you buy in shops in the West have actually been roasted in their shell before they were packaged for the super market. I dare to tell my friend and the people around him that this is the first time I hear that peanuts don’t already grow “ready” on the tree. They all throw their heads back and start a deep laugh. For a few seconds one could just hear the joyful laughter of the men in the hot afternoon sun. It is one of those moments when I feel how people must be thinking ‘oh these foreigners’. After eating the three he gave me, I manage to crack the shell of the one in my hand. And while I chew on these raw-tasting peanuts, he calls a lady over who balances a big plate of peanuts on her head. ‘I want my friend to taste these’, he said. We grab two peanuts and he says ‘see, this is a cooked one’. Of of course I know what cooked peanuts are. I open them (much easier that the raw one), and snack on the nuts. This is when I realize that he said cooked, not roasted. So I am eating these soft, watery peanuts and can’t make up my mind: Have I really been coming to Ghana for the past 8 years without ever knowing that additionally to the roasted peanuts, as we know it in the West, they also sell raw and cooked ones?! I feel a bit silly, especially when I realize that the 5 men around me all stare at me to see how I am taking the cooked peanuts. After this whole food-tasting, I do come to the conclusion that I like the roasted ones the most. ‘No no, the uncooked ones are the best’, they try to teach me. I am not so sure about it. I also wonder whether these are even good for you. ‘Oh no you cannot eat too much, otherwise you will get tummy problems’, I hear.

On my way home a few hours later, I think of these peanuts again. One is never too old or too experienced to learn more…


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