The only chestnuts I ever knew were the ones roasting on an open fire sung in Nat’s deep voice.  And Jack Frost rarely nipped at my nose in sunny SoCal, even around Christmas time.  So these tasty meaty sweet nuts were far from my world.  But here in PT they are roasting on every other street corner.  Ok, maybe every other 5th corner. Just look for the mobile roasting apparatuses: motorbikes with a front compartment equipped with a coal burning fire and a metal triangular hat where the chestnuts rest until roasted to ….perfection.  For 2 € a dozen, you are given a paper cone package full of hot and slightly charred chestnuts.  Delish.  Apparently the entire North American continent was full of the trees until the early 1900s when a blight wiped them out, save for a few in the Pacific Northwest and Northern Cali.  They are low in fat compared to other nuts and high in nutritional value. 


magusto portuges

Here in Portugal castanhas are the celebrated food of the São Martinho festival (Saint Martin, November 11th).   I recently had a chance to eat them roasted over an open fire at my friend Sara’s family home out in the countryside. 


We enjoyed a family lunch, cooked by her hubby who prepared arroz de pato (rice with duck). We ate outside on a cool but pleasant Saturday afternoon with her friends and family.   It was much like a Thanksgiving celebration, with lunch extending into the late afternoon hours, a post-meal zombie state, shared desserts brought by the guests (I made oatmeal spice cookies), and then when night fell we wandered inside to another fire and roasted the chestnuts and ate leftovers. 

During the day, Mundo impressed the chef with an experiment in cooking some cactus from the backyard, a la mexicana.  


Nopales emerged after a tedious de-spining process, including a cactus fruit tasting session with the kids.  



~ by maureenmoore on November 15, 2008.

One Response to “Chestnuts!”

  1. Well, it sounds like a fun time. A new eating experience and learning how to make them!

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