The chestnut season is in full swing!
The month of November is a popular time for Italians to start cooking with the sweet yet smokey flavour of chestnuts which come into season towards the end of the year. They are considered a symbol of Autumn across the country.
The most common types of chestnut are the smaller variety named castagna and the larger marroni which grow most commonly in the South of Naples. The relationship with chestnuts has been a strong one for centuries, and were even used to make polenta before maize and cornmeal.
Italian chestnuts are typically roasted (caldarroste) as a snack or raw and whole for home cooking. Many festivals and markets are held to celebrate the food, with one in particular named La Sagra delle Castagne e del Vino Novello (the chestnut and new wine festival) held in the Tuscan town of Talla in Arezzo. Such festivals are considered an authentic experience of Italian culture and lifestyle. Other popular places which celebrate the nut are Vallerano and Riofreddo in the province of Lazio. A tip for finding the best chestnuts is to look out for the darker brown ones with few cracks.
Italian chestnuts are a specialty of November, make sure you give them a try this month!