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Chestnuts, a Portuguese street food

in Culinary Traditions & Food Ways/Food & Drink by

“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire …” are far from a dreamy, magical romantic Christmas night. In Portugal, chestnuts are a staple.

Roasted chestnuts are popular street food sold around November, when Dia de São Martinho (St. Martin’s Day) is celebrated across the country on November 11th. Traditionally, newly harvested chestnuts are eaten around a bonfire that date and the treat is eaten during the autumn season.


In years past, chestnuts were used to supplement the meager winter harvest — serving in place of bread or even as a substitute for a full meal.

The street vendor told me five minutes ago that the chestnuts would be ready in 3 minutes; however, it was totally worth the wait! Some locals feel that 2€ for 12 chestnuts is a little pricey but for me it’s a small sum to hand over for this absolutely delicious seasonal treat and a taste of Portuguese culture.

Chef Cassandra Loftlin travels around the world digging into sumptuous dishes.

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