One of my key learnings over Christmas: No one in their right mind eats roasted chestnuts.
OK, OK. We've all sung "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire." We all have these nostalgic Currier & Ives prints of people pulling pans of hot chestnuts out of the fireplace. Some of us have even used the metaphor about "someone's chestnuts are in the fire."
So add chestnuts to one of those somewhat Yankee foods that I've never eaten. Until now. More accurately, until right before Christmas.
The missus and I were Christmas shopping along Fifth Avenue. Well, more accurately were were Christmas looking -- there's no way we could afford anything being offered for sale along Fifth Avenue. With one exception: There was a vendor selling hot roasted chestnuts out of his cart.
They didn't smell great. In fact, they smelled burnt. And I quickly found out why: In most cases, they burn the outer shell of the chestnuts as they roast them. You're supposed to peal the burnt shell of and eat the nut inside. I've admitted in this space that I'm a total moron, but thankfully I wasn't stupid enough to try and eat the burnt outer shell.
I should have. It couldn't have tasted much worse than what was inside. The texture was like a soft walnut, but without the flavorfulness of a walnut. It seemed more like a cross between a peanut, a walnut and sidewalk chalk.
I gobbled down two to make sure I hadn't gotten a bad one, and then tossed the rest. It was Christmas, the window decorations were out, billions of tourists were jamming the street, the wind was blowing and I'd eaten roasted chestnuts.
I can now say I've "done" Christmas in New York -- for the first time.