Want a taste of fall? Try roasted chestnuts. Warm out of the oven they grace your mouth like honeyed chalk and conjure the mild, sweet smell of decomposing leaves. It’s more pleasant than it sounds, I promise. On my baking tray they sit like christmas presents waiting to be opened.
For me they bring to mind Southern France, where I bought them once from street vendors while visiting a friend of mine, and then again years later while wandering cobbled streets and castles with my sabbatical-ing aunt and uncle. I find it amazing that with the whole range of gourmet France at my mind’s fingertips, that time is linked with homely chestnuts. For me, something about their taste, like fall colors, is soaked in nostalgia. For my brother, however, chestnuts are a food for experimentation. Right now he’s sitting at the kitchen counter eating his with pickles and soy milk. “They’re so different,” he says around stuffed cheeks, “They don’t even combine in your mouth.” Obviously the next culinary mastermind of the Hare Steig household.
The chestnuts I got are from Gillen’s Pansy & Nut Farm, which sounds like the premise of a Monty Python sketch, but is actually a farm in Amherst, MA. Three cheers for nutty local produce!!!