Dropping temperatures come hand in hand with the predictable return of roasted chestnuts in Switzerland.
In towns and cities, Marroni vendors hawking this sweet delicacy will set up their booths beside mulled wine sellers. For many here, all of these traditions are of equal importance. Meandering through brightly lit streets with a cup of mulled wine and a bag of roasted chestnuts in hand is simply a delight.
Why are roasted chestnuts in Switzerland so popular?
As for me, charcoal roasted chestnuts are at the top of my food pyramid during this season. In fact, I know the location of most green booths or orange stands (or I can locate them within minutes wherever I go).
Stopping for some roasted chestnuts is a way of slowing down and soaking in the atmosphere, with busy shoppers rushing to the stores or bankers on the way to the apéro bar. My favorite part is when the chestnut sellers add a couple of bonus pieces to the bag in order to tip the scale...
When does the season for roasted chestnuts in Switzerland start?
The season for roasted chestnuts in Switzerland starts on October 1 and lasts through the end of March.
The best chestnuts are sourced from the south of the Alps, such as the Ticino or Italy. It is a common pastime for the Swiss to spend their fall weekends in the warm chestnut forests of Ticino, collecting the precious nuts.
Fun fact: According to local tradition, the first chestnut one finds every season is a talisman of luck - as long as it is carried in the left pocket.
In order to bring out the sweetness of the nut, Marroni chestnuts are supposed to be tossed and roasted for at least 10 minutes. They are sold at street prices of about 6 francs for 150 g. So much for "bread of the poor," the former nickname for this delicacy in Ticino!