Last Friday, China Daily published my column for the month of September: Discovering chestnuts roasting on an open fire in China. Here’s an excerpt:
“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,” is the first line of The Christmas Song, one of my favorite holiday tunes growing up in the United States. Yet as a child, I never once roasted chestnuts at Christmas, let alone any other time of the year. Before I was born, a blight had devastated the vast majority of US chestnut trees, leaving me and most of my fellow countrymen strangers to the nut, apart from its mention in that timeless song.
In fact, it wasn’t until I came to China that I truly understood the wonders of a freshly roasted chestnut, especially those gathered in the wild.
Years ago in September, I discovered that wild chestnut trees, a variety native to China, thrived in the hills of my husband’s rural Zhejiang village, and were as close to us as the backyard of the family home. “See, there’s a chestnut tree,” he said, pointing out the window from his old bedroom to its trunk and branches just a few meters away from us. I couldn’t believe this tree, a rare sight in the US, actually grew beside the family garden.
So imagine my astonishment when, while hiking some remote hills near the village, I couldn’t walk a few steps without stumbling over chestnuts that littered the ground. It was as if the heavens had decided to rain chestnuts upon the land, instead of water. My husband Jun had the foresight to suggest carrying along a few bags with us, and we began collecting these fall treasures as we meandered up and down the hills. Even though the sky was a melancholy gray, it felt like the sun had shined upon us that afternoon, thanks to the bounty of chestnuts we found and brought home with us.
Read the full piece here online. And if you like it, share it!