Friday, May 09, 2014

CHESTNUTS (THE SPIKY SEASON PART 2)

Castanea Sativa (Spanish Chestnuts) are the original castanets, but they are also delicious                                UHG
As this year’s prickly pears begin to disappear, the chestnuts, num nums and kei-apples are in full swing. It seems that autumn is not only mushroom season in Cape Town, but also ‘the spiky season’.

For some folks chestnuts are a nuisance                                                                                                                                UHG
Foraging for chestnuts is a lot less hard-core than a prickly pear mission, but it is for this reason that the competition is stronger. The squirrels are in a league of their own, but there are plenty of other people who know just how delicious these nuts are. Members of the Asian community in Cape Town are particularly fond of chestnuts and for good reason. If you stumble upon some that are ripe for the picking, then pick them! …Because it’s unlikely they’ll be around the next day. On my recent forage, a kindly Korean couple, having got there before me, took pity on me with my empty basket and shared their harvest.

Inside the spiky pod are nuggets of yumminess                               Mans
The chestnuts you want are on the ground, the pods turning brown where they have started to split. You can easily prize them open with your feet and carefully remove the shiny brown nubbins of deliciousness with your fingers. Once you have a full bowl in your kitchen, don’t leave them hanging about as they need to be used quickly to do them the justice they deserve.

Aaaah! Now I know why some horses are described as chestnut colour                                                                      UHG
Isn't that a comforting site? The smell is warm and cosy too                                                                                      UHG
Boil, roast in the oven or in a dry pan or, best of all, roast them over some glowing wood embers. Just remember to cut a cross in each one to avoid them exploding all over the show. If you get a perfectly ripe one and do a good job of cooking it, the bitter pith is easy to remove. But I don’t get too fussy about all that: I peel what comes off easily and ignore the rest. The comforting smell of chestnuts happily roasting is like a giant reassuring hug and when you pop one in your mouth they are rich, nutty and sweet. If you want to get all cheffy, try finely slicing them raw and use as a garnish.

How the squirrels get to the nuts is a mystery!                                                                                                          UHG
If you get to the tree first, your baskets will be laden                                                                                                     UHG
A nubbin of butter and a sprinkle of salt and pepper is all that is needed                                                                       UHG
I'm already looking forward to next autumn                                                                                                                     Mans









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