Monday, October 24, 2011

Trick or Treat

Okay, okay.  I’m a week early!

But Astrid and I are in Atlanta as we speak, having just spent a glorious weekend in the north Georgia mountains with my kids and grandson.  Halloween is everywhere.  However, for this post, my thoughts are back home where we live in the Netherlands….

Where THOUSANDS of these chestnuts have fallen to the ground from the HUNDREDS of trees that surround our citadel city.  Seriously.

Actually, they had all but fallen by the beginning of this month.  OCTOBER.  AUTUMN.  FOOTBALL.  They sprinkled the ground like lost-n-found money.  Like gems from the sky.  I became the little girls and boys everywhere who came with their mommies…and bags…to collect their treasures.  “Look, Mommy!  Look at this one!”

One day I took out my own bag and collected my own.  Enough to sink my imaginary ship.

TRICKNot a one of them was edible.

All my life I had heard about chestnuts roasting on open fires at this time of the year.  Though I had never seen or experienced it, I envisioned crackling fireplaces in cozy, romantic homes.  No one ever told me about the 55-gallon oil drums around Europe's open-air markets, spitting their fires underneath iron plates sizzling with sweet chestnuts.  The kind you eat. 

Who would have known there were two kinds!  I first found ones like these in Germany years back and raced home to roast them in the oven.  I had eaten my first roasted chestnuts in Munich a few years before and could hardly wait to taste them again.  I thought I had found money on the ground.

TRICK:  Those weren’t edible either! 

And that’s when I found out they either are or they aren’t, depending.  The ones that are are sweet chestnuts.  The ones that aren’t are horse chestnuts or buckeyes!  Another trick and what a waste, since the Buckeyes are my archrival
Nevertheless, I found myself a perfectly-shaped specimen from the above stash (where I live surrounded by chestnut trees--the ones that are non-edible tricks), and turned it around tenderly in my hand on my daily walks…until it felt like a TREAT.

And because the Dutch don’t seem too keen on the edible variety (why is that???), I now wait eagerly for our trip to Düsseldorf, Germany, in early December, to visit the Christmas market…and to find my chestnut vendor on the corner who will serve me up a paper cone full of the sweet delicacies.

Such is life's sermonette.  Sometimes you have to pick through the tricks till you lay your hands on the TREAT!

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