If you’ve ever meandered through the sights and smells of a farmer’s market, you know half of the story. The other half is only discovered from the inside out. Being a vendor brings forth a remarkable vantage point, and a chance perhaps to bring forth a little inspiration.
Ever since I experienced the unique taste of Boiled Peanuts years ago by the side of the road- I was hooked. The trip from Gainesville to the east coast Florida beaches with college friends, either crammed in a van or wheeling along in a Dodge Dart, always included a warm brown paper bag of boiled peanuts. This steamy treasure was a must, and I carried this memory with me through the years. As I got older, I shared this passion with my children, and when my daughter moved back into town, we knew it was time to embrace this caviar of the south with gusto.
We gathered our needed supplies, made a few inquiries, and before long Lotti’s Boiled Peanuts grew from an idea, to a reserved spot at the local farmer’s market.
My daughter and her husband started working the booth on Friday mornings. My work schedule allowed me to join them only on two occasions. As I took my position this past Friday, the true sense of the market was revealed to me.
First of all, commradery is uncanny; chatting with neighboring vendors, rescuing wind toppled tents, trading of wares (peanuts for watermelon). There was a true friendship among sellers. This relationship from small town shop life of many generations back, was alive and well.
Boiled peanuts themselves are a southern food. What began as food from Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, is unfamiliar to many northerners. So, it’s with caution that many at the market approach our booth.
I discovered that trying a new food is much like doing anything new- fear is involved. Many of the shoppers are retirees and have led long and extraordinary lives. Yet, one after another they would remark- “I’ve never had a boiled peanut, and I’ve always wondered what they tasted like.”
“This is your chance!” we’d chime in.
An elderly man, as if on an archaeological expedition, picked and cracked at the shell with delicate precision. A look of wonder crossed his face as his mind reeled to attach a word to this new phenomenon. “It tastes like a…. it’s similar to…it tastes….”
With slight hesitation, each individual struggled to come to terms with his own recollection and specific definition. This test of trying something new was wonderful to see. It was taken with such delightful mischief. For some, it reminded them of a bean. For others, a potato. One woman commented that it reminded her of a chestnut.
“A new taste- me? Shall I? I always have wanted to….never did.” Such triumph of spirit was evident with each new bite!
How many things have we just never done? How many little steps have we never taken that would lead us to bigger things? I could see a spark of bravery and confidence in trying something new in each one of their eyes. A real test in stepping out of a comfort zones that had long been wrapped safely and snuggly for so long. It all started with one little test of bravery and acceptance of the unknown.
So whether we’re trying something new to eat, accepting a job offer, or visiting an unfamiliar place- inspiration may be disguised in something as simple as a peanut. And that may be all that’s needed to perpetuate positive change.