Castagne Roasting on an Open Street

21 Nov

Chesnuts roasting on an open fire—well, growing up in Washington state and then living in the desert of Arizona for nearly 10 years—I never saw them. Not until I came to Rome.

Granted, this isn’t exactly what you’d call an “open fire,” but, it’s about as close as you can get on the Rome streets this time of year.

Chestnuts, castagne (cah-STA-nyay) start to appear once the weather turns chilly, and it’s another thing I love about fall in Rome.

Mind you, this little sidewalk snack can get a little pricey. A couple weeks ago when I asked first, above all, (word to the wise), how much they cost, and I got the response €5, I told the man, “No thanks, that’s too much.” He said, “How about €3?” and just like that, we had a deal. Don’t be shy when you think it just doesn’t seem right. As we say here in Rome, “ci provano,” which means, “they try,” or simply, if people are willing to pay, they’ll keep asking, until someone comes along and challenges them on it. His stand didn’t have any prices written, but most do.

They put the chestnuts in a little paper cone and you can walk around with them. There’s usually about 5-10 in the cup.

I finally did get to roast chestnuts over an open fire my first Christmas here in Italy, in a tiny little town called Arcinazzo Romano, and we ate them while enjoying a bottle of Cesanese del Piglio Dolce, a sweet (dolce) red wine (Cesanese) that comes from the nearby town of Piglio.

What autumn traditions start to appear this time of year where you live?


13 Responses to “Castagne Roasting on an Open Street”

  1. tati November 21, 2006 at 12:32 pm #

    ammazza oh!sei diventata più furba di un napoletano!!hai capito proprio bene come funziona qui da noi…io al contrario ho ancora dei problemi…!!!In spagna però il prezzo è ancora piu basso….solo 2 euro per 12 castagne e non c’è bisogno di chiedere sconti!mmmm…buon appetito!

  2. J.Doe November 21, 2006 at 1:09 pm #

    I love roasted chestnuts. I always cooked them in the oven though so I never had roasted chestnuts on an open fire. Do they taste better that way?P.S. Now they sell them in American desert towns

  3. Shelley - At Home in Rome November 21, 2006 at 3:43 pm #

    Tati: Hai capito, eh? Sono diventata MOLTO italianizzata…non mi vergogno affatto, prezzi così sono assurdi, adesso che parlo bene, dico quello che c’è da dire!! ;-)J. Doe: Not sure if they’re better; I’ve never had them from the oven, but the fireplace does give them a bit of a “roasted” taste. And, looks like I left the States just a little too early to catch the chestnuts in the desert craze. 🙂

  4. gracie November 21, 2006 at 3:49 pm #

    We have plenty of this little fire on the streets, but the cost is lower, 3/4 € for 12 chestnuts, a very big quality, called “marroni” (brown), very good!

  5. nyc/caribbean ragazza November 21, 2006 at 4:03 pm #

    hmm yesterday it was 90 degrees here. I don’t know what “traditions” there are in L.A. for autumn. Back home on the east coast, autumn meant raking leaves, football games, wood burning fireplaces, wearing warm sweaters, crisp cool air in the morning, soups and pumpkins.

  6. Kelli November 21, 2006 at 5:03 pm #

    Your chestnuts are far more fanstastic than our local fall custom: the flocking of snow birds. Slow drivers, black socks with white sneakers, plaid pants. Need I say more?

  7. Expat Traveler November 21, 2006 at 5:18 pm #

    in switzerland you get a handy bag that has an extra bag to put your scraps in. It’s so perfect. I always got tons and was always filled up…Ah the days… I miss that here.. No traditions that make me jump…

  8. FinnyKnits November 21, 2006 at 5:18 pm #

    First – I’m glad Blogger is back online. Now I have to go back and comment on the last two days worth of posts since it was down when I was trying to yesterday. Bastards!Second – I’m trying to practice by reading your Italian comments back and forth. Eh…Third – I was very impressed at your streetside haggling skills with that man in Prati selling chestnuts. And walking the streets of Rome eating chestnuts with one of your best friends never sucks either. 🙂

  9. anton November 21, 2006 at 9:35 pm #

    Nobody’s answering your question! What I look forward to in the fall, actually right after Thanksgiving, is EGGNOG LATTES. Woo hoo! I know, a travesty by Italian standards but oh so yummy.

  10. Shelley - At Home in Rome November 21, 2006 at 11:02 pm #

    Tati and Gracie have both confirmed that chestnut prices are experiencing inflation here in Rome. Vergogna! (Shameful!)NYC: It’s hot over yonder! Don’t miss that Phoenix heat either. I do better in places with seasons.Kel: LOL. Your posts lately are screen-lickable. Can smell the pies cooking from over here.Expat: That’s a cool little invention. Come on now, Canada’s gotta have SOMETHING to offer you by way of fall traditions!! Hockey? :-)Fin-fin: Missed you! And your posts lately too, little baking wizard…are you and Kelli teamed up? And, yes, practice that Italiano!Anton: Haven’t seen you in a while! Glad you joined in. And, eggnog lattes…never tried it but I think here in Italy eggnog is called zabaione, am I wrong? Maybe they could make the caffè completo allo zabiaone, whaddya think?

  11. abe/happy November 21, 2006 at 11:10 pm #

    they look yummy – also you should definitely take a photo each time Amadeo does a different side walk mural.:)

  12. mad November 22, 2006 at 5:14 am #

    I love chestnuts. In autumn my family has chestnut nights where we roast them (in the oven cause it’s easier) and play cards while we eat them…It’s spring/summer here (Australia) so we are all getting waxed and ready for the beach.

  13. anton November 25, 2006 at 2:46 am #

    No, I think they call eggnog ‘Vov’. As in liquore all’uova.

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