So the summer is over and the autumn is upon us and what better time to light the fire and starting cooking one of the classic dishes of this area – the mondine – roast chestnuts
So just what are Mondine ?
Mondine are made by roasting chestnuts in a special steel pan, shaped like a deep sided frying pan with holes in the bottom. The chestnut are first castrate(castrated) by having a small incision made with a knife cut into them, removing a small portion of the skin so that the chestnuts do not explode in the heat of the fire. They are then placed in a pan which is held over an open fire.
The pan has a long handle, about a metre long allowing a good distance from the fire. As the skin on the chestnuts closest to the bottom of the pan becomes burned the chestnuts are flipped over allowing the ones on top to become cooked. This process is repeated until all the skins are crisp and practically burnt off.
Chestnuts – When this area was hit by famine, it was the food ingredient that kept many people alive. Dried chestnuts ground into flour is still known in Garfagnana as “the poor mans flour”.
Depending on which tradition is followed, a small glass of red wine is also tipped onto the chestnuts before a final roasting on the open flames. The chestnuts are then either tipped onto a table or sometimes into a hessian sack which is agitated between two people until the remaining skins on the chestnuts have been removed.
These are the mondine and they are now ready to eat.