Thursday, 29 October 2009
Gather ye cheggies
Everyone's been saying what a rotten year it is for chestnuts but not up here in Notts. My kids went out gathering just a mile away and came back with this lot after only an hour's work. I didn't go with them. Getting spiny thorns out of finger ends for a week afterwards is to be avoided at all cost especially if you're a writer!
My daughter washed and dried the haul and prepared to roast them. I favoured banging them in the microwave for a few seconds but I was over-ruled. They wanted them done in the chiminea outside for that authentic taste. They had a point. As a child, I remember going shopping with my gran shortly before Christmas and on the way to the bus station stopping off at a street vendor to buy sixpence worth of chestnuts from a glowing brazier - yes, dear readers, I really am that old - then hugging the brown paper bag in my mitten-clad paws until we were on the bus home. I know hot chestnuts can still be found but I bet the open brazier's been replaced with an 'authentic barrow'.
But back from the Dickensian fantasy - we were out of coals and logs for the chiminea so several pounds of cheggies went in my electric fan oven instead. Someone should've set the timer because when they were dished up the anticipated smokey-soft kernel had shrivelled and dried (along with the obligatory maggots contained therein) making them inedible. They'd have been more succulent if they'd been put through the Hadron Collider.
Oh and here's a little blast from the past...remember Johnny Morris of Animal Magic fame? He had a regular slot on BBC Children’s TV in the 1950s as The Hot Chestnut Man, telling stories over a brazier.