by Melinda Gallo

Stagione delle bruciate

For Sunday lunch with my suoceri (in-laws), they surprised me with bruciate (roasted chestnuts). Itís one of natureís sweetest gifts in the autumn that I adore. I remember the first time I tried marroni (chestnuts) at one of the street vendors many years ago. I didnít particularly like them, and found them dry and peculiar tasting.

I was originally only familiar with the marroni they have in France: marrons glacťs and a sweet chestnut cream in a tube.

Since Iíve moved to Florence, the only way Iíve eaten marroni was in gelato (ice cream) with marroni, but bruciate with a glass of Chianti is now my ultimate favorite.

I had originally thought that the two words in Italian for marroni--marroni and castagne--were identical, but, in fact, they arenít. I learned that marroni are larger while castagne are smaller and usually sweeter.

In lieu of fruit after our secondo (entrťe) and before dessert, my suocera (mother-in-law) placed a wool sweater holding the marroni. Each one of us picked out a couple of marroni and peeled them, eating some and placing others in a bowl for later. I sipped my glass of Chianti after enjoying a hot bruciata. I looked at my suoceri, both busy eating and peeling marroni, and thought how good food with people I love is one of lifeís greatest pleasures.

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