Fall brings roasted chestnuts to Italian villages and towns

Image via La cucina di Zoe.

Chestnuts signal the start of the cool weather in Italy. All over the country, there are festivals called sagre where the chestnuts are celebrated.

American culture is familiar with chestnuts because of the line from the Christmas song, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…” In Italy, this is an actual scene from many street corners as the weather makes its transition into autumn. You can buy a paper cone full of warm castagne as you stroll around enjoying the crisp air and festive lights of the town center.

Chestnuts have provided the population with an abundant nutritional base for centuries. When ground, they behave in a way similar to many grains. The inventive and resourceful Italians have historically used chestnut flour for bread and polenta.

There is, however, a multitude of uses in dishes such as chestnut soup, castagnaccio (a type of cake), preserves, and candied chestnuts.

Fresh castagne are making their way into many upscale American grocery stores across America these days. We advise strongly advise you to take home a bag, cut a slit across the middle of each one, and roast them in a hot oven for about an hour.

It’s a great way to celebrate the fall, just like an Italian…

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