Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Autumn, Sweet Chestnuts

Sweet Chestnuts

In October and early November in this part of France many people gather Sweet Chestnuts. The hills around Lamalou-les-Bains are cloaked in forests. The main trees present are Evergreen (Holm) Oak, Sweet Chestnut, Beech and, on the higher hills, conifers. The Sweet Chestnut was an important crop up until the start of the XXc and was the main staple food of many of the people of the area. Wheat doesn't grow well here and chestnut flour was used to make bread. Chestnuts were harvested and dried in purpose built drying houses known as Secadous. The dried chestnuts were then ground to make flour. Most of the large chestnut plantations are now somewhat derelict but the remains of the secadous are encountered from time to time while out walking the forests.

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