After an unusually warm October, November brought the characteristic chill of autumn and with it the smell of roasted chestnuts. The streets of downtown Lisbon are invaded by stands of chestnut roasters that emit a white smoke that mingles with the fog and gives the city a mysterious atmosphere.
If you've never tasted roasted chestnuts is time to order a half-dozen (to start) and savour what had been the principal food of rural populations before the arrival of corn and potatoes to Europe. The chestnut tree was even called bread tree, since the fruit was ground into flour, which was then used to produce bread.
Versatility is the middle word for chestnut, which can be roasted, baked, eaten raw or made into puree for making sweets. It is rich in fibre, so a small portion gives satiety quickly. It can be accompanied by a cup of sour cherry. The chestnuts are served in paper cones (in the paste it was newsprint) and is a great trick to warm your hands on cold days!