Chestnut: (n) a glossy brown nut that may be roasted and eaten.
Beware of those who pursue authenticity simply to establish the superiority of their cause.
Spending Christmas with some friends many years ago, the suggestion was made that we try to roast some chestnuts over an open fire to
capture the sensation of Mel Tormé, when he wrote “The Christmas Song.”
“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Jack Frost nipping at your nose…”
Not familiar with Jack Frost, we decided to go for the chestnuts. Actually, they decided–those purists who felt that authenticity gave them an edge in the competition for supremacy.
Three problems immediately came to the forefront:
- Nobody knew anything about chestnuts–and this was before Wikipedia enabled us to fake it.
- Nobody had any idea what type of fire would be necessary for roasting, or how the little fellas would line up to be toasted.
- And of course, none of us knew what chestnuts tasted like.
At first, it seemed to go pretty well. We were able to locate chestnuts, and somebody provided a solid brass container with two extended arms, so the chestnuts could be placed above the fire for cooking.
It looked lovely.
Then for some reason, the gentleman who basically instigated the event, became so excited about checking on his chestnuts that he forgot that the brass container was metal and had been dangling over (you got it) an open fire. For some reason, he reached in with his hands to remove the container and then lurched back in horror and pain, his paws red and ablaze.
So rather than having chestnuts roasting over an open fire, we ended up driving our friend to the Emergency Room to have his hands treated and wrapped in gauze.
Upon returning about two and a half hours later, the chestnuts had burned because no one remember to take them off–once again–the open fire.
In case you don’t know, chestnuts, like any number of other substances, don’t smell very good when they are burned. As a matter of fact, the odor of nutty immolation was in the house for months to come. Needless to say, not much was ever said about chestnuts, roasting or open fires.
Sometimes it’s just better to go out and buy a package of peanuts and warm them in the microwave.