Graham Reid | | 2 min read
I think his name was Peter and he was South African. And, as was the way with it when I was young, people like him just appeared in our lives for a while.
I was probably only about eight or nine when the bullish but friendly Peter entered the scene. I was probably only a few months older when I would have seen him for the last time.
I only recall one story about him, that when he was at a multi-course dinner at some lord's stately home in England he lit a cigarette after the first course and never saw a morsel of food for the rest of the night.
His Lordship had informed the butlers that the guest had indicated he'd finished eating.
A good story.
Ours involving Peter was less so.
It seemed Peter could import a lot of peanut butter into New Zealand in those days when you needed an import license for just about everything.
And so my parents – most probably my dad – decided there was a profit to be made out of this.
I didn't know there was a peanut butter shortage, but then again I was just a kid and adults probably had a clearer picture of the supply and demand ratio in the world of peanut butter.
And so it came to pass that peanut butter from South Africa arrived at our house. A lot of it.
At least one 44 gallon drum of the stuff.
Now just pause for a moment to consider what happens to peanut butter in that quantity – indeed in any quantity – when it is just standing around for probably weeks on end before it is landed in Auckland.
When we opened the drum there was a very deep layer of just oil. And all the heavy peanut component was in a solid if slightly slushy mass beneath it.
We took turns churning the gluggy substance, for days on end.
I recall that when it reached the stage where it resembled recognisable peanut butter as we know it that my mum – and probably my older sister – had the joyful task of transferring it into big Agee preserving jars which were placed storeys high in the tall cupboard in what we called the back kitchen.
I guess there must have been about 30 jars of South African peanut butter on those shelves.
I don't remember being subjected to peanut butter on a daily basis and I suppose it was on-sold over time . . . although I suspect it was mostly given away.
I never much liked the stuff then and rarely eat it now.
The only person who did well out of this I guess was a chain-smokin' South African called Peter who was never mentioned again in my hearing.
The heading here may be a little obscure but the Peanut Butter Conspiracy were a psychedelic bands from LA in the mid-late Sixties. Up until the floods I had a couple of their albums.
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