They are some of the aromas that transport you – through the magic of memory – to other places and times. The ensuing thoughts may be sweet or bitter, the climes warm or cool. Today I am thinking of Christmas, Thanksgiving, and other similar holidays that certainly have particular ‘smells’. What they have in common is warmth and sweetness, and other elements that enable family members to reminisce about all the previous holiday experiences as in a beautiful dream.
My childhood Christmas definitely smells of chestnut. I imagine Grandma Evropi standing next to her wood stove, roasting chestnuts, mountain tea simmering too! After all, my grandmother’s village is called Kastanoussa! (named after the chestnut.) The traditional settlement, with its stone-built houses, is located at the foot of Mount Belles, is surrounded by plane trees and chestnut trees. It hosts large Pontic feasts with expatriates from all over the world and from all over Greece.
The chestnut has traditionally been used for a variety of medical purposes, from treating dry coughs and diarrhea to… hemorrhoids. Traditional herbal therapy uses the leaves, the bark of the trees, the casing of the fruits (the actual chestnuts), but also the fruits themselves – which are used for cooking and confections.
Chestnut leaves have expectorant properties. Their infusion and extract is used to ease diseases of the bronchi and rheumatism. Tea made from the leaves is appetizing, tonic, invigorating, and helps digestion. Tincture of the leaves in homeopathy helps with whooping cough and catarrhal rhinitis, pharyngeo-amygdalitis, and hemorrhoids. Boiled leaves are also used for hemorrhoids.
Chestnuts, raw or roasted, fight diarrhea. Old cow breeders give boiled chestnuts and tea from chestnuts along with rice to cows that were suffering from diarrhea.
As for its nutrients, they are many, but be careful with the amount consumed as chestnuts have quite a lot of calories!
The bark of the tree is antipyretic and helps with fevers.
I’m now going to boil some chestnuts! I wish health and happiness! I hope you had a great Thanksgiving (perhaps with chestnut stuffing) and I hope you let the smells fill you with memories, old and recent!
* The above is not medical advice but mere suggestions for improving your diet. Before reach herbal use you should consult your doctor, especially those who have health issues, are pregnant or are under the age of 6.
Evropi-Sofia Dalampira holds a PhD in Agricultural Economics, MSc in Botany-Biology and MSc in Horticulture & Viticulture.