I spied fresh chestnuts in the market the other day and it reminded me of our trip to the Garfagnana back in May. We took a walk through a grove of chestnut trees behind the farmhouse while waiting for our incredible lunch to be served. I know I’ve seen chestnut trees before because I have a memory of picking chestnuts up off the ground, but I’m not exactly sure where or when. Not here in southern California, for sure. These trees were of a different sort. They were hundreds of years old and some of them were actually named.
Meet Mario born as a tree in 1701. Oh how I love Italy! This mountainous region of Tuscany is known for its chestnuts. Festivals celebrate this humble tree in the fall. During the war these trees kept the citizens from starving as chestnuts were one of the few things available to them for sustenance. We were lucky to come upon a metato-the traditional chestnut drying hut.
I am not very knowledgable about the metato and the process involved for drying chestnuts, but I did stumble upon this blog where a family is restoring an ancient house in Italy and there’s a metato that’s part of their property. If you have questions about the metato I’m fairly certain that Heather at Sapori e Saperi could answer them.
Spring In Tuscany-Cook With Panini Girl In Tuscany (come along and see what we might discover!)