When I was a child my Mum, my sister and I would go to Emerald Lake around Easter to look for chestnuts.
The trees next to the lake were always picked bare so we would head over the little hill at the back, past the stream (where once we found tadpoles) into the groves. We always managed to come home with a few. Your fingers stung from wriggling the glossy brown nuts out of their prickly cases. Often there was nothing there, or a tiddler rejected by prior fossickers, needled fingers for no return. Sometimes you would find a big fat nut...after the possums had. But we always got a few worth eating.
We'd take our booty home and put them on the coals and wait. When they exploded we would pick them out with the tongs and peel off the casing and eat them with salt, the nuts hot and slightly charred.
Now, sometimes up in the hills I've convinced the CFO to pull over so I can buy cooked or raw chestnuts by the roadside, but it's not the same. I have also bought them roasted in the CBD from footpath braziers, but again it is not the same. A proper chestnut is too hot to handle, burst, floury and delicious. I tried roasting some in the oven but this was an utter waste of effort. The children (and the CFO) have been less than captivated.
Today at the Prahran Market several stalls had big, fat, tight shiny nuts and I couldn't resist. While Princess Pea finished her school project on Debussy far too late tonight I roasted some. They were fabulous and she and I and the CFO ate the whole bowl. Chestnuts mean autumn! And I told her the story behind Smetana's Trio in G, as autumn also means reflection.