With the days getting colder chestnuts come into their own; these warm little snacks low in calories but full of goodness are perfect to keep your belly and hands warm, but right now 6 people in Luzern are nervously waiting to find out who of them will be allowed to run the four chestnut stands in Luzern. The decision will not be based on taking a look at their competence, friendliness, or even how long they’ve been doing this for, the town will decide by drawing their names out of a hat. This is causing quite a furor locally, as some of the people wanting to sell the chestnuts have been doing so for over 30 years and it is their livelihood. The town provides the stands and rents them out for CHF 750.- a month from September to March and the town’s employee responsible for this project is quick to point out that Luzern has quite a high density of stands, Zug has none for example, Winterthur 2 and St Gallen only 1.
Another problem for chestnuts sellers and buyers this year is the poor quality of chestnuts. I went to the chestnut market in Vitznau last Sunday and bought 16 kilos of chestnuts from Weggis and Vitznau, unfortunately a lot of them are spoiled because of a Chinese fly larvae which is decimating chestnuts trees both here and abroad. The most organically friendly solution is to introduce another fly which is its natural prey, but Switzerland hasn’t allowed this yet. In the meantime the amount of chestnuts which have been produced in Switzerland have gone from 60 tons to a mere few hundred and considering that over 2000 tons are eaten in Switzerland every year, this is going to be a problem. So don’t be surprised if prices seem to go up in the near future, still let’s hope we can enjoy roasting chestnuts for a long time. My favourite way of eating them is accompanied with some Tête de Moine cheese, smoked salmon and thinly sliced charcuterie washed down with a nice earthy red wine… yum!