I had thought that American chestnuts were a thing of the past. Oh sure, I had heard that chestnut trees were coming back, but I didn’t know that orchards were producing domestic nuts.
I am happy to report that chestnut trees are alive and well in North Carolina, and producing a bountiful harvest.
Well, technically these trees are hybrids–American chestnuts grafted onto Chinese, blight-resistant trees, but they are local, nonetheless.
I grew up eating castagnas, mostly around Christmas time. In my mind, chestnuts were always an Italian thing. It was only after I met my wife’s father, and started to visit up in the mountains of North Carolina, that I learned that once upon a time, mountain roads in Southern Appalachia were dotted with roadside shacks selling roasted chestnuts.
So it’s a heartwarming convergence for me to have found chestnuts at a roadside produce stand the other day. After dinner,
I roasted a tray–no, not on an open fire… it’s a little too warm for that. But I have to say, the smell and taste put me in mind of other times–my own, and others’.