Let’s hope that the chestnut roasting season this year is a bit more easier for the AS Barga than it was last year.
If people remember, the weather last year more or less destroyed any chance of lighting fires and roasting chestnuts out in the open. Everything got cancelled due to torrential rain that just kept on falling day after day.
The AS Barga set out all their equipment, fires, stoves and tables all ready for the night of Halloween but in the end, the whole evening was cancelled due to the torrential rain ( article here) and it get on doing just that every time they started to light their fires.
We finished that article last year by saying “Better luck next year A.S Barga.” …. by the looks of things, their luck is holding as there were large crowds all afternoon on the Fosso.
Necci, mondine and vin brulè on the Fosso this afternoon thanks to the sterling work of the A.S. Barga who every year at this time set up their stall, kitchens and fires and fill the autumn air with the smell of roasting chestnuts.
As they are roasting for a large amount of people they have a different system for preparing them rather than using the more slower traditional padella -they instead use large metal cages which are turned slowly over the flames. As the cooking comes to an end they are turned faster and faster to knock out the burnt outer skin and leave just the cooked inner ready to be bagged up and given to the waiting crowds.
Necci – the simplest of ingredients …. sweet chestnut flour, water and salt mixed into a thick paste and cooked between two hot plates over a flame. Two metal plates, the testi or cotte, are oiled and heated and the chestnut paste is poured onto one of the plates, the other is placed over the top so that the necci can be cooked from both sides. A stick to press down on the top plate and in seconds you have one of the tastiest foods in this area. Add some ricotta and you have quite simply the Food of Gods.
That is if you are not over a certain age and remember that chestnuts were the staple diet of the poor in this area without which they would have perished in time of famine.