The autumn season is so beautiful around here and soon the days will be cool and crisp. Leaves change to all colors depending on how fast winter approaches. The rice fields will be harvested soon and occasionally I see little flocks of quails running through the forest. On tiring thing (to me) about this season, is the chestnuts. The chestnut trees are dropping big prickly balls of chestnuts now and in the forest you can hear the thunk-thunk when the wind blows. There are even such things as chestnut farmers and most of the people with any land at all around here have a couple of chestnut trees planted. That means that at this time of year there is an overabundance of chestnuts! I am getting them by the pounds! It seems like everyone is willing to give you a few bags of chestnuts and English kids' mothers hand me a bag every few days. It takes skill to look pleased at a heavy bag with a couple hundred nuts inside it when actually you are thinking about the three other bags just as filled that someone else has given you this week that you still haven't done anything with!
There are two things wrong with getting chestnuts. No, three. One, no one in my family has ever liked them. They don't have much taste and are naturally mealy but they are a very organic kind of food that is very nutritious. I have explained this to my family but no one wants to eat them. If I put them in the rice cooker with flavoring and rice, I get a nice pot of chestnut-rice which Tetsu will eat one dinner of, but he's not too thrilled with just boiled chestnuts or pureed chestnuts and chestnut-rice once a year is enough for him. Another problem with chestnuts is that they are murder to peel and make ready for eating. They have prickly outsides that stab your fingers and this shell can only be taken off with your feet in protective shoes. You step on them on one side of the chestnut and step on the other side with your other shoe and try to break them open enough to take out the three or four nuts that are inside. The nut's inner shell is almost impossible to get through without a very sharp kitchen knife and after removing the shells from about 20 nuts I have blisters on my thumbs and the fingers on my right hand are numb and my wrists are threatening tendinitis. It's not worth the work to get to the meat inside the nuts!
The last problem with chestnuts is that once you get past the shell, more often than not you find a worm. (Or worse, find you've cut it in half!) Sometimes you scream and drop the whole thing, though hopefully not the sharp kitchen knife in the process. Sometimes you throw out the whole nut, sometimes you cut the worm out. Someone suggested thinking of it as added protein and just cooking it and eating worm and all. Or another line of thinking is that if even the worm likes the chestnut it is guaranteed to be chemical free and delicious. I can't get myself to buy any of that jargon. So that's another reason for the skill it takes when receiving another bag of chestnuts. "Do I really want to go through another horror show experience tonight?" If not, then the bag just sits there for the worms to thrive on.
My husband, looking over my shoulder right now says I'm mostly going to get comments back today not about how nice the chestnuts look, but about how Tanya sure has dirty shoes! Sorry about that!