Maritxu’s Secret, the chestnut seller

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In the Basque Country, the chestnut has been an emblematic part of the landscape and culture for centuries. A stunning image that exceeds 20 meters high, a fruit that has fed generations and a wood that has built farmhouses.

For me chestnuts take me to my childhood, my first frost days and Maritxu. Every week with my allowance I looked forward to meeting her.

  • Six chestnuts, please.

Slowly, the chestnut seller picked up a paper cone made out of newspaper, lifted the blanket covering the brazier and selected those that were ready. When she found one that didn’t like, she seemed disappointed and pulled on her dark apron, which was as dark as her face and her clothes.

That afternoon I had to wait a little bit until they got the usual golden hue. I stared at the fluorescent orange coal with a sad and red face, as my mother had punished me without chestnuts until after dinner! Martixu said:

  • Can I tell you a secret to forget your sorrow “laztana””? Tighten the paper cone with both hands. The heat will go through your arms until it reaches your heart. At that moment, the pain will disappear.

Maritxu is no longer at her corner, but at go Basquing we continue to share her secret with our guests, because the magic of the chestnuts sellers continues to spread through the streets of the Basque Country at this time of the year.

You will find them by surprise in the cooler days. You will ask for a handful of chestnuts and will receive them packaged in a newspaper cone, maintaining the exact temperature for the heat to go spreading through your body and, for a few seconds, you will be happy.

Go Basquing Stories

* Basque colloquial expression to convey affection , something like “sweetie”