The Story of Two (i)
Düsseldorf, Tuesday, 12.10.1999, 10:02 pm
I have already been thinking of making some sweets out of the 202 chestnuts we picked up from the park last Sunday, but it was Eric, my French ‘son’, who gave me the last push last night. He was telling me how expensive these glazed chestnuts were and how they would melt in one’s mouth…
It is a big challenge to make glazed chestnuts, according to Eric. The reason why these whole chestnuts are so expensive is that chestnuts break very easily. But it is not to show myself I could do it that made me want to try out the recipe which I had found in an old cookbook. It was more that I would like Eric and, above all, Otmar (my now ex) to savour this specialty made from self-picked chestnuts.
I spent half an hour snipping the tip off the chestnuts and five hours peeling them. I even skipped lunch. I simply swallowed one of those big apples brought by Andreas before I dashed off to teach Toshie at four.
A handful of chestnuts had landed in Eric’s oven but it was still a long and complicated process peeling the rest of them. The problem is that they have to be peeled hot. After two hours trial and error, I found out the most efficient way. When I finished, my finger tips looked as if they had big blisters but I did a neat job.
The process I devised ran like this:
Two saucepans of water boiling on the hotplates.
Put chestnut A into the first saucepan, after a while chestnut B.
After one or two minutes, when A is hot and the shell no longer hard, take it out.
Put chestnut C into the same saucepan where B was and move B to position A.
Take off the shell of A and put into the second saucepan.
Now B is ready. Take it out.
Put chestnut D into the first saucepan, move C to the ‘front’.
Take off the shell of B and put into the second saucepan.
Meanwhile A is ready for peeling. Take it out of the second saucepan.
Now C is ready. Take it out.
Put chestnut E into the first saucepan, move D to the ‘front’.
Take off the shell of C and put into the second saucepan.
Meanwhile B is ready for peeling. Take it out of the second saucepan.
Now D is ready. Take it out.
Put chestnut F into the first saucepan, move E to the ‘front’.
Take off the shell of D and put into the second saucepan.
Meanwhile C is reading for peeling. Take it out of the second saucepan.
I have always thought that chestnuts were more or less smooth as their shells. I never knew they kind of look like walnuts when they are without their peel. And so many different shapes in their half roundness, so many crevices.
I had to think of what Eric said about the non-existence of uniqueness in people and things. I wish I could show him all the peeled chestnuts.