What's more fun at the height of winter, in mid-December, than to eat roasted chestnuts on the fire warm and pampering? December 14th is a special day in honor of the roasted chestnuts.
The taste of the chestnuts is somewhat reminiscent of the taste of a sweet potato. Chestnuts can be bought in the country before roasting in markets and shops for fruits, vegetables and spices. But the most fun is buying them roasted at a market stall that sells them hot and fresh and then they crack easily.
Some interesting facts about chestnuts:
The chestnut grows on a large tree that can reach a height of 20-25 meters. The tree trunk is very thick and can reach a diameter of two meters. The chestnut tree prolongs life and in Europe there are chestnut trees that are a thousand years old.
In the Bible the name "chestnut" is mentioned, but apparently the reference is to the plane tree.
The chestnut is a nut that grows inside a hard, thorny brown bark. The peel gradually opens before the fruit ripens and the completion of ripening occurs in mid-October.
Chestnut is a healthy candy from nature: it contains protein, calcium, iron, potassium and B vitamins and has no cholesterol at all.
To prepare the chestnuts for eating, the most popular way is to light them on fire.
Before roasting, make a chestnut between one and four grooves. In Morocco it is customary to make two grooves, in Tunisia one long, in Europe four grooves and in Russia only one groove.
From the chestnuts you can make a spread, cream or puree (puree).
During the First World War, the chestnut fruit was used in Britain to produce acetone from which they made gunpowder (according to advice they received from Chaim Weizmann). Children across the UK would enlist in the war effort and go out into the woods to pick chestnut fruit.
Historians estimate that chestnut fruit began to be popular in the 16th century, when street vendors began selling them as a quick and warm snack in the winter.
Portugal has a tradition of eating roasted chestnuts on St. Martin's Day. In Tuscany, Italy the tradition exists on St. Simon's Day.
How to raost chestnuts?
There are several ways to make roasted chestnuts:
1. In the oven
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. The chestnuts are X-shaped grooved on their flat side. Place the chestnuts on a baking sheet or on the grill, with the cut side up. Spray some water. Bake for 15-20 minutes. During baking, move them occasionally so that they do not burn. Remove from the oven and let them cool for 2-3 minutes. Wrap them in a towel and give a blow to crumble the shell. If they are still difficult to peel, you can put them in the hot oven for another minute.
2. On the fire
Rinse the chestnuts in cold water. Make an X-shape on the flat side. Place in a heavy iron skillet or plancha on the flat side. Turn on the heat and simmer for five minutes. Occasionally shake the pan to dissipate the heat. Turn the chestnuts and sauté for another five minutes. Remove from the heat, wait for a few minutes to cool and peel.
3. Cooking in a pot
Make an X on the flat side of the chestnuts. Put the chestnuts in a pot and boil for 5-10 minutes. Remove from the pot, let them cool and peel.
December 14 is also Monkey Day
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