Text: CUINA MAGAZINE Photo: Getty Images
This quintessential autumn product even has its own annual fair in Osona county
In season from the end of September until December, chestnuts are one of the quintessential autumn products. Although chestnut trees were introduced by the Romans in the Caucasus and the eastern Mediterranean, they did not become popular in Catalonia until the 18th century. They were mostly planted in the northeastern zone of Catalonia (Guilleries-Montseny, Corredor-Montnegre, Empordà and Garrotxa), and also in the Conca de Barberà, where the climatic conditions were more favourable.
One of the most highly-prized varieties are Viladrau chestnuts, which are collected in the depths of the Montseny Natural Park, at an altitude of some 900 metres. Viladrau chestnuts are rich in carbohydrates and fibre, and low in fat. Also rich in protein, vitamins and minerals, Viladrau chestnuts contain a large amount of potassium and low sodium, making them an extremely healthy choice. In fact, Viladrau chestnuts even have their own fair, La Fira de la Castanya de Viladrau, which takes place at the end of October and has been celebrated in the town in the county of Osona since 1995. The annual fair brings together gastronomy and commerce alongside leisure activities for the whole family.
In the past, chestnuts were only eaten roasted on All Saints’ Day, giving rise to the popular annual festival, La Castanyada, which is celebrated all over the country. However, in more recent times their culinary uses have expanded considerably, and they are now often to be found in stews, sauces for various meats, purees and cream soups, and even desserts.