When there’s a chill in the air and leaves are falling off the trees, you can tell autumn has arrived. Now that the clock has been turned back for daylight savings and it gets dark early, the rhythm of the city and of our lives change. We eat a bit earlier and go out for evening strolls. When walking through the city streets I notice the one particular smell that reminds me that it’s autumn time and that gives me a nostalgic feeling. It’s the smell of chestnuts being roasted on a fire.
During autumn and winter, lots of little stalls pop up all around Barcelona. They are most often manned by old Catalan or Spanish people who seem to have been doing this all their lives. The stalls usually have a big metal drum with wood fire to roast the chestnuts. You can buy a portion for a few euros which comes wrapped in some paper. The smell of wood fire and the roasted delicacy brings memories of the past and the warm chestnuts smell and taste delicious. Standing in the street watching the world go by and peeling the freshly roasted chestnuts together with your love or a friend is one of those intimate and pleasant moments. With the street lights shining down on the old lady, her open fire and the autumn leaves on the street, it feels a little like a fairytale.
When you are visiting Barcelona in autumn or winter, do take the time to go for a leisurely stroll through the dark streets after dinner and when your nose picks up that smell of wood fire, you have found one of those stalls! Enjoy sharing a paper bag of warm, roasted chestnuts on the street. There is nothing fancy about it, it’s just one of those simple pleasures in life.