While in many parts of the world Halloween is celebrated today, in Barcelona (and the rest of Catalunya) we’ll be having a castanyada, or chestnut party. It is a custom that possibly goes back many centuries, and which is incredibly popular here. Want to join me?
On the even of All Saint’s Day people get together at home or in the country for a meal that consist of roasted chestnuts, sweet or normal potatoes and panellets (I’ll give you the recipe tomorrow), and traditionally a sweet wine, usualy moscatel, is the chosen beverage to accompany these foods.
For those in the city with no facilities at home to do any roasting, the many chestnut stalls that have sprung up around the city with the start of cooler weather are a great solution. But also on normal days, these castanyeres and castenyers do good business. After all, a paper cone with roasted chestnuts or a baked (sweet) potato make for a healthy and delicious snack, and help keep our hands warm!
Sweet potatoes, but also normal potatoes are a popular option, but chestnuts are my favourite. I like them raw also, but nothing beats that slightly smoky, sweet taste of a roasted chestnut!
Most castanyers have two roasting drums, filled with charcoal, on one of which they roast the chestnuts and potatoes, and on the other they keep them warm after roasting.
Chestnuts on the roasting drum and potatoes being kept warm on the other drum.
I love that the chestnuts are served in paper cones! It’s such a traditional thing, and much more pleasant than any plastic or styrofoam container. This castanyera has used pages of a phone book – and is probably infringing privacy laws by doing so – still I think it is a cute custom. Too bad the cone soon only holds the skins… oh well, I’ll just have to get some more!
Happy Halloween to all who celebrate it; I’m off to get some chestnuts and sweet potatoes for tonight’s castanyada! Tomorrow I’ll be back with the recipe for panellets - provided by my friend Didi van Haren of Bijzonder Spaans, who’s birthday is today. Happy Birthday Didi!