“Nel tempo delle castagne il porco ride e la pecora piange” (“At chestnut time, the pig laughs and the sheep weeps”), says an Italian proverb. Yes, the pigs relish the earthy goodness of chestnuts, but the flavor is not enticing to a sheep. For me, the rich taste of roasted chestnuts is a sign of autumn about to slip away, winter creeping in. When the weather chills in Umbria, the rural people gather around their woodstoves at night. The woodstove – center of any farm kitchen – heats the house and farmwomen toast bruschettaon the woodstove top, simmer soups and sauces and roast chestnuts.
The chestnuts are washed and each one is slit to allow expansion as they roast on the woodstove. Peppa likes her peeled, roasted chestnuts in a glass of red wine. If you’re in Italy in November, a memorable night is one spent around the woodstove with our farm friends, sharing roasted chestnuts and il vino novello(“the new wine”). Join us!
And as you walk through Assisi’s main piazza, stop at the chestnut cart of Giorgio, right near the fountain: he’ll roll up a brown paper cone for you, filling it with hot roasted chestnuts. Che buono!
Click here to read about chestnuts and other November Umbrian culinary treats