By Dave Hogan, Guest Columnist
I married Martha Stewart. At least, I married the decorator part of Martha. The Lovely Margo is a highly trained interior decorator. For years, she traveled around the country, decorating stores for a large furniture chain. She currently applies her skills to our small cottage here in the Holler.
While I’m the beneficiary of her talents, I cherish peace and quiet. And, Lord knows, it’s like living in a bowling alley when she embarks on a major project.
All marriages require compromises. So, some time ago, we decided that when the First Lady of Margo-Lago decides it’s time for a large project, it’s time for His Grouchiness to vacate the premises. “Vamoose. Go fishing. Go on a road trip. Just go!”
Recently the inevitable call came for me to Get Out of Dodge. I checked with daughter Gina in Tallahassee and she agreed to some Father-Daughter time. So I headed for Florida with a few stops along the way.
I’m a lifelong baseball fan. Having let the first year of play at the new Braves stadium slip by without seeing a game there, I determined that now was the time! The Braves were playing a Sunday afternoon game against the Marlins that fit perfectly into my schedule.
Gert, as my GPS system is lovingly named, took me right to SunTrust Park in Marietta. I arrived about an hour before game time, which gave me an opportunity to poke around a bit. The stadium is beautiful, with a small city of hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, and condos built around it.
As game time neared, it was time for me to begin a ritual that I’ve enjoyed at most every baseball game I’ve ever attended: Co-Cola and peanuts. Yes, Co-Cola, not Coca-Cola. (A true Southerner will never miss the opportunity to drop a syllable. Conserves energy.) I will further conserve energy by calling it Coke.
The proper way to enjoy this treat is with an ice-cold bottle of Coke and a single-serve of peanuts. (More on this in a moment.) But sometimes you have to make do. . . The only Coke available at the ballpark was in a plastic cup and the only peanuts available were the bagged, salted-in-the-shell kind.
So there I sat, watching the game, shelling peanuts, eating one, and tossing the other into my Coke. The peanuts sank to the bottom of the cup and infused the Coke with that refreshing sweet and salty taste. When I finished the Coke, I enjoyed a snack of soaked and softened peanuts. Hogan Heaven!
As I said earlier, the proper way to enjoy this delicacy is with a bottle of Coke and a small bag of shelled, skinned, and salted peanuts. Take two or three swigs of the Coke to make room for the peanuts, make a funnel with a loosened fist, drop the peanuts in the bottle, and for the next few minutes visit Heaven on Earth.
No one knows when this culinary custom began. Probably in the 1920s. And, like banana and mayonnaise sandwiches, and sweet iced tea, it is purely Southern. Sue Monk Kidd mentions it in her best-selling southern novel, The Secret Life of Bees, and Barbara Mandrell sang about it in “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool.”
(A couple days later, in Jimmy Carter’s hometown of Plains, I found me a bottle of Coke and a bag of Tom’s peanuts and enjoyed this snack in the proper manner.)
By the way, the Braves made one of their biggest comebacks ever, scoring six runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat the Marlins. What a perfect, purely Southern, Sunday afternoon!
After 57 years in the radio industry, Dave Hogan is enjoying his retirement in North Carolina. He’d love for you to say ‘howdy’ to him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.