Friday, April 16, 2010


I am obsessed.  I will admit it.  Under the branches of the big chestnut tree you will find me.  Foraging for my shiny deep brown bounty.  It is no accident that they name that kind of brown "chestnut".  It refers not just to the colour but the lustre of it.

I have roasted them in every way imaginable. frozen, baked, pounded, crumbled, boiled and fried..... all these methods I have used to bring out the sweet nutty goodness of this fruit to the fore.  Best roasted on an open fire it has brought people together around the embers....but it is only the "foreigners" that truly appreciate the chestnut.

Frozen afternoons in Paris with only you and a chestnut vendor for warmth; a spartan village in Macedonia with a small crowd of everyone you know around the fire; the warm company of a pocket full of hot chestnuts as you walk down the chilly streets of Shanghai.

So far I have most enjoyed my private "castagna" parties with a few friends round to roast chestnuts over an open fire.  But I have been trying every recipe under the sun, though the time consuming preparations for getting the little buggers out of their shells and skins mean I'm moving slowly.  Chestnut bread has bean very popular amongst friends and I've even had a couple of commissions.

Chestnuts definitely fall under the category of slow food, and in my case wild food and free food as I get them from someone else's front yard.  Unlike other nuts chestnuts won't keep as they have a high water content so you kind of have to go for broke during the season and I think the best options to store them would be to roast and hull them and then freeze them.  I guess you could also just freeze them shell and all too.  But I the best is just to eat them like crazy when the season is on and then look forward to the next season!

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