Season‘s Greetings 2016 from PDF Tools - The traditional chronicles of Swiss Christmas, Part 11

A delicious winter snack to warm hearts and hands - chestnuts


A delicious winter snack to warm hearts and hands

„Heissi Marroni!“ – you may have heard this call from street vendors selling roasted chestnuts in winter. Brought to Switzerland by the Romans centuries ago, the humble chestnut was then considered food for the poor before rising to its current status as a welcome treat to ward off the cold.

Chestnut vendors roast chestnuts on the street in big pots on hot coal – when the lid is opened, steam escapes and the familiar scent of freshly roasted chestnuts fills the air. Packaged in paper bags, the nuts are not only tasty, they also act as lovely hand warmers too. Rumors of the best chestnut vendor spread like wildfire in the cities in winter. Delicious chestnuts are cooked through and partly browned – but never completely wrinkled, dry or burnt. The shell can be easily removed from the nut and the core is soft to the bite.

As early as the beginning of October, towns and villages begin to celebrate Castanata, a harvest festival for chestnuts. In Ticino, the Italian–speaking part of Switzerland, there are hiking trails such as the Sentiero del Castagno that wind through the scenic hills of the Macatone region and connect chestnut groves and woodlands.

From the flowers to the nuts, leaves and wood, every part of the chestnut tree has its use. The chestnuts themselves are transformed into various culinary delights, such as the typical Swiss specialty, Vermicelles. Vermicelles are a dessert made with chestnuts that have been peeled and boiled in milk, finely pureed and then seasoned with sugar, vanilla and kirsch. Vermicelles are usually served with meringue, plenty of whipped cream and vanilla ice cream.

Every canton in Switzerland has a different name for the shiny, dark brown nuts, but you‘re sure to find them all around the country during the winter months. The chestnut vendors, often called ‘Marronibrater’, and their woolly hats, heavy boots and coal–blackened hands, warm our hearts and hands with their treats in the cold season every year. Their passion can be heard in their calls that resonate through the streets – carrying with them the hope that, this year, they will be the insider’s tip.

We wish you and your loved ones all the best for the New Year – here’s to good health, exciting experiences, much happiness and success!

Your PDF Tools team