the horse chestnut and sweet chestnut for healing and eating

[Prospect Books, 2006]

 Ria Loohuizen is a literary translator, so it’s not suprising she embellishes this little paperback about chestnuts with poems and stories about Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson and Robert Louis Stevenson.  The book itself is a small literary work.  It tells grand stories of horsemen hiding inside ancient hollow trees or little tales of how to harvest and store nuts.  Included are instructions on how to make a chestnut sauce for pasta, duck breast with chestnuts, pancakes made with chestnut flour and the famous Italian chestnut cake castagnaccio.  Simple hand drawings depict the flowers, leaves and nuts of the trees and a cruel looking pair of spiked shoes designed for peeling chestnuts en masse.  It is the poetry and literature that dominates, including this simple old saying from Southern France:  One plants / a peach tree for oneself / an olive tree for one’s son / a chestnut tree for one’s grandson.

Courtesy – Richard Cornish – THE AGE EPICURE