Until the introduction of the potato, whole forest-dwelling communities, which had scarce access to wheat flour, relied on chestnuts as their main source of carbohydrates. It is said that the Greek army survived the retreat from Asia Minor (401-399 BC) thanks to their stores of these fruits. The sweet chestnut ruled in Europe for a long time… Then, potatoes arrived from the “New World” and the bastards kicked the chestnuts off our tables, the only exception being for some regions and seasonal festivities and of course… The cold days.
And where can you find them now? They’re everywhere… Near train and bus stations, in front of supermarkets, parks and in every square in the city. But where exactly?! In a shop? A small food stall?! Nope… You just need to follow the unmistakable aroma of roasted chestnuts and you’ll find someone in an old tricycle-bike. Usually the square will be filled with smoke and steam from the roasted chestnuts. For about €2.5 you can get about a dozen.
We eat them to celebrate St. Martin’s Day together with Jeropiga (sweet wine with around 15% alcohol). You’ll be a Lisboan if you buy a package of burning roasted chestnuts to warm your cold hands. Definitely a must-do for anyone visiting Lisbon in the colder months. Winter is here!