Tom Laporte, aka the “Boiled Peanut Man,” brought a small piece of Dixie to Dexter’s backyard last November. Laporte, thirty-five, the sous chef at the Ann Arbor City Club, has worked in the food industry most of his life and spent some of that time in Florida. While traveling in the South, he became fascinated with the ubiquitous roadside snack and wondered why boiled peanuts are seldom found up North.
Now, each weekend, Laporte makes his own Cajun style boiled peanuts: he steeps raw legumes in his own blend of eleven spices overnight, then brings them outside to boil in a turkey fryer over a propane flame in his yard at 4517 Dexter-Ann Arbor Rd. He eagerly demonstrates for novices how to crack the shell just right with one’s incisors and to suck out the juices before eating the peanut itself.
Laporte estimates that fifty to sixty cars stop by when he is in his yard on Saturdays and Sundays, and his regulars will sometimes order a big batch for parties. Hand-painted, rustic looking signs point the way to Laporte’s driveway, where a pint of boiled peanuts sells for $3, or two for $5. Ask for a sample.