Thursday, October 26, 2006

Chestnut Surprise


I was in the mood, Sunday, for some Udon noodle soup, so stopped into Am-Ko to pick up a few essentials. I rounded the corner to the produce to find the scene above: 6-8 women giggling and carrying on, and hovering over baskets of somethings.

What is it? That's where they usually set the live crabs. Remember years ago when my kid grabbed the tongs and pinched my leg, setting me flailing about that very aisle?

But it's not crab season, and I just couldn't help myself: I nudged right up between them, to get a peek. Just as I was determining that there was something in a hard shell, one of the women turned and smiled. "I'll bet you're wondering what we're doing, aren't you?"

Honestly, yes. I am.

"It's chestnuts" she told me. "We love them." And she proceeded to share with me 2 or 3 different techniques for cooking chestnuts, telling me to be sure to split them first, "or they'll blow up."

I didn't end up buying any chestnuts, but I did stand back and watch these women, scooping up enormous bags of them. It was nice, observing another "Girls' Night out" in a different setting. One that was a bit culturally different from my own, but still the same. Clearly strong friendships. Lots of laughing. A bit of shopping. Promises of cooking. Maybe a little gossiping. And saying "hey, hi" to a suddenly-shy girl watching from the sidelines.

It's nice to accidentally end up in a place in which you feel blessed to have been there for a particular moment.

I left smiling, and wishing that I'd had the nerve to go ahead and try to cook a chestnut. I don't get it: how do you split a chestnut? And I'm just not sure what to do with one, once I get it cooked up. How do you even know when it's done? It's in a shell!

But I'm not one to pass up an adventure, especially one handed to me on a silver platter. So, by God, I'll go back this weekend and pick out my own bag of chestnuts, if there are any left.

And, if I blow up my kitchen? Well. At least I tried.

14 comments:

  1. great post. has me smilin'.

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  2. AZ :o/11:55 PM

    I don't remember where or when, but I ran into a vendor selling roasted chestnuts. I recalled the Christmas tune which included the words "chestnuts roasting on a open fire" so I decided to try a few. Didn't like 'em! Warm nuts with weird texture, not my cup of tea.

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  3. BANG!

    BOOM!

    CRACK!

    KA-BOOM!


    Two neighbors talking in the street.

    "Whats that god-awful racket?"

    "Lori's cooking."

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  4. I roasted chestnuts for my husband one cold winter day last year when we realized he had never had them. I have fond memories of buying them from street vendors piping hot in NYC on freezing winter days as a kid.

    To split, you can just press a sharp knife into the shell to make an X (it isn't as hard a shell as it seems). Then it will split along that seam when it roasts.

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  5. Chestnut recipes:

    http://homecooking.about.com/library/archive/blv92.htm

    Have fun! I roastd some by an open fire. Didn't split 'em and they didn't exploded. Pretty good too!

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  6. ::music in the background:

    Chestnuts roasting on an open fire...

    Holy Mother of God..that house is on fire!!!!!

    So much for THAT technique

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  7. Can't imagine who the shy girl was, on the sidelines.

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  8. see, during the holiday season you can buy bags of frozen chestnuts at Trader Joe's. And every year I buy a bag, and we have those chestnut-maple brussels sprouts for Tgiving or Xmas, and the rest of em I nuke for a bedtime snack. Personally, I LOVE em, but never roasted raw ones. Bet they're even better. If you don't cook em long enough, though, they're a beeotch to peel.

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  9. The microwave probably is NOT the right way to cook them. Then again if they explode - at least it is 'contained'

    It is nice when you can see the joy other people have and can share in that. It is the little things in life that make it great sometimes.

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  10. Jay are: Thanks. That makes me smile.

    AZ: Yeah, I wanted to sing that to the woman that addressed me, but I didn't have the nerve.

    Wil: Now THAT made me laugh.

    Mal: Thanks for the heads' up on the soft shell; seems like they's just roll about and you'd risk cutting yourself.

    Andy: I have a gas fireplace; hmmmm...

    Mary P: If that happens, I'm coming to live with you.

    Larry: :blush: I have my shy moments. You notice I still snuck a photo though.

    Barry: LOL I'll nix the microwave. And I agree about finding joy in the little things.

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  11. Shy Smiley: Still no Trader Joe's in this berg, though people are making a lot of noise about it. Next time I'm in Indy or Chicago, I'll make an effort.

    Me & Brussels sprouts don't get along, and that's all I'm saying.

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  12. I absolutely love chestnuts! When I was little, we'd buy roasted chestnuts on the streets of New York in the dead of winter. They were so warm and soft and smelled like happiness.

    I'm going to have to look at Trader Joe's. Or maybe we need a road trip to New York???

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  13. I was thinking along the same lines not to long ago when my walnut tree was dropping it's walnuts. I realized that I have never cooked them or even knew how. Good luck with your experimental cooking...

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  14. Really neat post. And as for your comment "It's nice to accidentally end up in a place in which you feel blessed to have been there for a particular moment" ~ well, that's how I feel every time I come for a visit here. Just thought you should know.

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