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Old Chestnuts

Biking up the hillside toward Monte Lema, we noticed chestnuts on the ground.

Too bad it is illegal to pick them up. Or at least it would have been in the past, when chestnuts were so precious for their protein that you were only allowed to pick up nuts from your own trees. Until the early twentieth century this Malcantone region of Ticino (and elsewhere in Ticino as well) was so poor that the only source of protein for much of its population were chestnuts. They were ground into flour and roasted and made into anything and everything. The food value was high but so was the tedium. These days young people are trying to revive the old chestnut culture, but the old people who actually ate them will have none of it. The memories are too painful.

Times are much easier now. For example, we are now eating ice cream in Migleglia while our bikes and packs are being carried up Monte Lema in a gondola lift so that we can walk to the top without weight on our backs. Was looking for chestnut-flavored ice cream, but couldn't find any.

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