Let us expand on the chestnut and its ancestral terroir roots with the aim of providing a socio-geographical capital. What is it?
Chestnut orchards are chestnut plantations cultivated in the poor medium mountains of Southern Europe (i.e. South of France and Corsica) with a woody and nourishing aspect: it is nicknamed the bread tree. No need to explain this term twice to French people! The maintenance of chestnut groves is very dependent on human activity. In the past, the population of the living area radiating around a chestnut grove was described as a community-based and self-sufficient society; appropriating the local terroir implies a specific incorporation of a food style based on typical and basic local products. The consumption of chestnuts by the local population reflects the seasonal supply of one of the vegetable pieces of the naturally-man-made puzzle represented here as the chestnut landscape.
Chestnut orchards maintenance is not limited to the delivery of hot chestnuts for autumn and winter markets!
It is a tree of civilisation that shapes a chestnut civilisation as a geographical and social association, putting in harmony the elements extracted from the chestnut landscape (fruits, wood,vegetation cover, etc.). It aims to produce material techniques - mostly used in Occitan language -, as well as eating habits and mental images (J.R. PITTE, actual secretary of the French Academy of Moral and Political Sciences). The beauty, the originality and the authenticity of the landscapes are translated by some rites of sociability and festivity, folk tales and specific local architecture.
As chestnut trees are essential for erosion control and fire protection, they should be able to regain their historic place as trees of life if holm oak growth is limited in these specific orchards. Its tasty fruits are now savoured internationally as free, natural and hand-warming sugar candies. In many territories with medium mountains - examples in South Korea or Italy - experiencing the taste of chestnuts contained in a cone is part of both a local lifestyle and local slow tourism.
HEALTH FOCUS +++
WALNUT: with a lipid profile recommended in the prevention of heart diseases and in reducing the risk of cognitive decline in aging.
CHESTNUT: with dietary fibres which, once fermented by bacteria in the colon, contributes to the integrity of the intestinal wall and to the metabolism of the colon.
- French sources, SORRY!
- McGee on Food & Cooking - An encyclopedia of kitchen science, history and culture, McGee Harold, Editions Hodder and Stoughton Ltd, 2004, 884p, ISBN 9780340831496
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