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Posts Tagged ‘nyc’

chestnut_DSC_6820

 

We have been “babysitting” a friend’s little dog so I have been out in Central Park far more than I normally am.  Today, I came across a whole chestnut in the middle of a number of chestnuts that had either been attacked by squirrels or stepped on by other dog walkers.  I picked it up as it brought up a memory which made me laugh out loud.

Years and years ago when I was a newcomer to the neighborhood and spent a lot of time exploring the park with my children, I came across some of these very same chestnuts.  What I didn’t realize (or know) was that these are horse chestnuts, not those sweet chestnuts so loved by the French, found roasting by an open fire or filling the fall and winter air with the intoxicating aroma from the chestnut carts that can be found in midtown Manhattan.

These are chestnuts are not to be eaten.  However, I thought I had found gold as I grew up in the west and had never seen a chestnut or a chestnut tree.  So, of course, I spent some time picking quite a few up from under their tree.  I took them home and turned the oven on to high. I laid the chestnuts out on a sheet pan and popped them in the hot oven to roast.  After taking care of my little ones I began to hear some strange noises coming from the kitchen which, of course, being distracted by the children, I ignored for a bit.  But, then the noises got louder and louder.  I hurried into the kitchen and discovered that the noise was coming from the oven.  As I opened the oven door, I was bombarded with bits and pieces of chestnut.  Every chestnut had popped open and the meat and shell had turned into shrapnel, most of which clung to the inside of the oven and was turning into cinder leaving an absolutely awful odor.

Had there been a household computer in those days I’m sure I would have gone to it and looked up my prize to see what I had done wrong.  But, instead, I had to go to cookbooks and encyclopedias to try to discover my error. It took a while but eventually, I found that 1) these were not chestnuts to be eaten and 2) when you roast chestnuts you have to prick the shell otherwise they will burst.  I never tried it again and to this day I don’t like chestnuts!

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xmas_3060

 

After all the sadness of recent weeks brought on by the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy, I have been delighted to feel the joy of Christmas in the air.  All sizes of Christmas trees are stacked front of corner Korean delis and massed in front of my beloved Zingone’s – tiny Charlie Brown trees up to 7 footers that will take up a good part of most New York City apartments.  While at the ever-expanding holiday stall manned by some young Canadians behind the Museum of Natural History, magnificent trees that tower almost up to the street lights give the feeling of the forest.  The front of the history is festooned with 2 gigantic apatosaurus (I thought they were called brontosaurus, but Steve just told me I have been wrong all these years) statues covered in fir branches and tiny glimmering lights that delight young and old.  New York is not a Currier and Ives lithograph any more, but it is a spectacular place to experience Christmas.  And, New Yorkers really are warm and welcoming.  Do come celebrate with us!

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