Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire


In Algeciras we celebrate November first,  All Saint’s Day, with nuts.  What I call “The Crazy Nut Festival”  is actually just the culmination of the annual autumn increase in air pollution. 

Every corner has its resident chestnut roaster.  Each sends a delicious stream of smoke into the air.

They are all home-made contraptions, but basically of the same design.  A metal container, most often a beer keg, houses the fire.  The heat and smoke rise up a length of chimney pipe, and a perfectly sized metal pot holding chestnuts is perched on top.

Hot nuts are plucked out of the pot and placed on a tray that attaches the pipe to the beer keg.  They perfume the air and stay warm until they are placed in newspaper cones.

The chestnut roasters take up their corners in September.  But the nutty madness ends in a huge, late night nut market on the eve of All Saint’s Day.  Which happens to be Halloween night.  Every year, more and more kids dress up North American style .  So there are lots of ghosts and goblins running through the smoke.  But the focus is nuts.  There are rows and rows of stands selling all manner of nuts and dried fruit.

And sugarcane.

Most of the stands are family affairs.  But these young guys decided to go upscale with their chestnut business this year.  Multiple sales points and matching uniforms.  Same beer kegs and smoke.

In the old days, the market marked the end of the local nut harvest.  Town folk stocked up for the winter.  Now, you can buy imported nuts cheaper in the supermarket, but everyone still goes down to the crazy nut festival.

And I do mean everyone.

Check out the crowd.  And we went super early so Rogelio could elbow his way to an actual purchase.

I needed my once a year treat of candied almonds.

And now, as Halloween wraps up, the smoke clears.   The department stores magically change from orange and black to red and green.  Just when Christmas enters people’s conscious and I get the urge to feel Jack Frost nipping at my toes, for the first time in two months, there won’t be a chestnut roasting over an open fire anywhere.

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2 comments

  1. WoW! Those stands look amazing…not so sure about the make shift chestnut roaster but hey, it doesn’t appear that Spaniards are as incredibly addicted to hand sanitizer as some of us folk over here.
    Just this afternoon I was telling Mom about what you were saying about all the celebrations and the cemetaries. She likes your blog because she says she learns stuff and she loves see all the funny pics. I think she enjoys it almost as much as I do….I have to show her your “nut festival” pics, she go well…NUTS!

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