With the days getting colder, Swiss towns and cities are decking the halls with Christmas lights, Glühwein booths and Marroni stands. For many here, all of these traditions are of equal importance. Meandering through brightly lit streets with a cup of mulled wine and a pouch of roasted chestnuts in hand is simply a delight.
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...
Marroni season in Switzerland starts on October 1 and lasts through the end of March. The best chestnuts are sourced from 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 are supposed to be tossed and roasted for at least 10 minutes. They are sold at street prices of about 5 Francs for 150 g/5 oz. So much for "bread of the poor," the former nickname for this delicacy in Ticino!
What’s your favorite memory about roasted chestnuts?