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Ancient Peruvians cultivated wild peanuts into domestic plants more than 3000 years ago, and peanut shells have been found at many archeological sites, dating back to at least 2500 B.C. From Peru, peanuts spread to Mexico, the Caribbean, Brazil, and other South American regions. Portuguese traders shipped them from the newly found Americas to Africa and China, where they became a very important crop.
Peanuts grow practically underground on the base of a bushy plant. They aren't nuts at all, but are legumes, related to beans, peas and lentils. Though used mainly for a snack in the United States, the groundnut, as African tribes call it, is very important to many cultures of the world. The peanut is a main ingredient in many traditional sauces and dishes native to Africa, China, and India. Peanut oil is used widely for cooking as it has a neutral flavor that doesn't add to or change the flavors of foods it is cooked with. For these reasons, the only places in the U.S. where you'll see peanuts used for more than snacks are-nope, not at the circus or baseball game, but in Chinese, African, or Indian restaurants.

This Peanuts recipe is from the Food Facts and History Cookbook. Download this Cookbook today.

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