Sunday, October 11, 2009

Chestnuts

Alla and I decided to take a walk through the Arboretum today. We usually roll through it on our tandem bicycle, but today we went on foot. We experienced things on foot that we certainly would have missed on the bike, just as other slow adventures on the bike reveal things we never would have seen in a car.

For one thing, I ate a lot of stuff. This time of year lots of nuts and berries are mature, and I experimented liberally. Dogwood, for example, has an amazing fruit. I ate quite a few dogwood berries and foisted a few off on passers-by. I also ate something called a Princeton nut (it's orange, the color of Princeton University, but I can't find you a link. It's not very tasty.) The only berry I tried was mountain ash. Alla knows this tree from Russia, where she says people use the berries pretty commonly.

Late in the afternoon, we saw a large family group harvesting something from the ground and we went to see what they were doing. The family turned out to be Chinese, and they harvested bagfuls of Chinese chestnuts. First I confirmed with one of them that these aren't horse chestnuts and that they are indeed edible. So, of course, I picked one up, peeled it, and ate it raw. I liked it. Alla wouldn't eat one of these nuts raw, at least not until I'd survived for a while after eating that first one. But we did become engrossed together in harvesting some nuts for ourselves.

Alla teased me for making it into a competition, but I am who I am... We harvested into our own bags and weighed our take when we got back home. For the first time ever in any kind of harvest competition, I kept up with Alla. Jointly we had 3¼ pounds of little chestnuts. We roasted a handful of them this evening, and we look forward to enjoying them on quite a few evenings ahead.

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