Warm hands, warm heart and a smile…

There are days where you encounter nothing but Eeyores, the world just seems to rain on your parade. Yesterday was not a day like that.

On my way home with a bounce in my step, I could smell of something appealing cooking over coals but was not all that familiar. After doing some shopping, I stopped by a sidewalk vendor outside La Bottega (my neighbourhood Italian grocery store) and discovered he was roasting chestnuts.

Thinking about sharing the information about the cart on local foodie website ottawafoodies.com, I asked the vendor if he minded me taking a picture. He smiled and told me to go ahead.

I fiddled a bit and was the human zoom, while trying not to bump into people on the sidewalk and get a clear shot of the cart. I wanted to indicate what it was and get the context of where I was in the tiny viewframe of my cell phone, he started prompting me to come over to him. I rushed and quickly took a shot that turned out blurry and showed very little. Grr…. Slightly frustrated but in good spirits I came over to him. He had an idea but was vague about it and  started moving around the chestnuts.  I thought he was going to lift one up in his tongs and pose for a photo. Not what I was going for but sure, its digital film, so why not?  What he was doing was looking for ones that had opened.  The man put a napkin with the store’s logo into his gloved hand and then placed and arranged 3 chestnuts on it. How perfect! I took a single shot almost embarrassed for being such a dork about it and yet wishing I had a real camera with me to get a decent shot.

I introduced myself to Lucciano, we had a brief conversation, thanked him for his help and he returned the nuts to the grill and went back to shuffling them around. As I walked away he called to me and handed me that same napkin. As it turns out he had been looking for one that was done to no avail. He gave me a chestnut wrapped in the napkin with the instructions to wait 5-10 minutes to give it some time to finish cooking. In the meantime enjoy my walk and the warmth.

I thanked Lucciano again and headed on my way, light hearted and grinning from ear to ear. What a wonderful way to keep your hand warm on a chilly day! I continued my walk, with my tiny bundle, swapping hands from time to time. Ten minutes later I was home, hung up my coat, put away the groceries and sat to enjoy my first chestnut in many, many years. I don’t remember them tasting this good!

Thank you Lucciano! You helped make my day.



From Ottawa, Ontario

Jody is one of a household of two swing dancing and DJ'ing foodies. For us culinary and musical adventure is always on the menu!
We always listen to music while cooking and dancing during prep has definitely been known to happen. Our kitchen's soundtrack tends to be Jazz, Blues, R&B, Soul, Motown, and Funk music. We cook from the heart, tend to host many informal dinner parties some of which are fundraisers for The Weekend to End Women's Cancers. "Adventure is out there!" but it can be at home too and we encourage friends to roll up their sleeves and participate.

Our culinary inspiration is drawn from seasonal ingredients found at farmer's markets and gardens, through travel, TV shows, all sorts of life experiences and cookbooks.

As a kid, Jody did a great deal of traveling south of the boarder and it greatly influences the foods she craves and ends up cooking. Her comfort foods tend to be simple and gravitate towards Italian and all sorts of Asian. Since her move to Ottawa she finds that she is cooking more, caring more about where her food comes from and how it is made.

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2 Responses

  1. Roasted chestnuts have more meaning to me (at Christmas) than any other food. The pic you grabbed here is a splendid example “castagne” at their finest. Well done… got any left??

  2. Nice post. A very friendly vendor of chestnuts, I never tried to eat these nuts in my whole life. And it looks hard but delicious. Maybe chestnut is good for Christmas season.

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