If you get to visit Lisbon during Autumn and early Winter, you get to see many roasted chestnuts sellers on the streets. They are all over downtown with their carts burning charcoal and filling the streets with smoke and the unmistakable smell of roasted chestnuts. Chestnuts are roasted in a special roasting pan with a conical shape and many holes on the bottom to let the heat and the smoke pass. Seasoned with salt, chestnuts are put inside the pan over the burning charcoal and roasted for a few minutes. Roasted chestnuts are usually stored in a small drawer of the cart, close enough of the fire to keep them warm but not over-roasted.
Not long ago, you could hear the sellers preaching out loud announcing their product: “Quem quer castanha assada? Quentes e boas!” (Who wants roasted chestnuts? They’re hot and good!)
The chestnuts this couple was selling came from Trancoso, a hilly area located in the north of Portugal, away from the coast, quite known by the quality of their chestnuts.
To eat roasted chestnuts during Autumn is an old and cherished tradition among Lisboners celebrated in the lyrics of a fado song dedicated to the city and popularised by the fado singer Amália Rodrigues: Cheira a Lisboa (Smells like Lisbon).