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We give the name of nut, too, to the chesnut,1 although it would seem more properly to belong to the acorn tribe. The chesnut has its armour of defence in a shell bristling with prickles like the hedge-hog, an envelope which in the acorn is only partially developed. It is really surprising, however, that Nature should have taken such pains thus to conceal an object of so little value. We sometimes find as many as three nuts beneath a single outer shell. The skin2 of the nut is limp and flexible: there is a membrane, too, which lies next to the body of the fruit, and which, both in this and in the walnut, spoils the flavour if not taken off, Chesnuts are the most pleasant eating when roasted:3 they are sometimes ground also, and are eaten by women when fasting for religious scruples,4 as bearing some resemblance to bread. It is from Sardes5 that the chesnut was first introduced, and hence it is that the Greeks have given it the name of the "Sardian acorn;" for the name "Dios balanon"6 was given at a later period, after it had been considerably improved by cultivation.

At the present day there are numerous varieties of the chesnut. Those of Tarentum are a light food, and by no means difficult of digestion; they are of a flat shape. There is a rounder variety, known as the "balanitis;"7 it is very easily peeled, and springs clean out of the shell, so to say, of its own accord. The Salarian8 chesnut has a smooth outer shell, while that of Tarentum is not so easily handled.9 The Corellian is more highly esteemed, as is the Etereian, which is an offshoot from it produced by a method upon which we shall have to enlarge when we come to speak of grafting.10 This last has a red skin,11 which causes it to be preferred to the three-cornered chesnut and our black common sorts, which are known as "coctivæ."12 Tarentum and Neapolis in Campania are the most esteemed localities for the chesnut: other kinds, again, are grown to feed pigs upon,13 the skin of which is rough and folded inwards, so as to penetrate to the heart of the kernel.

1 The tree is the Fagus castanea of Linnæus.

2 Cortex.

3 The common mode of eating it at the present day. The Italians also take off the skin and dry the nut; thus keeping it from year to year. When required for eating, it is softened by the steam of boiling water.

4 Not improbably said in allusion to the fasts introduced by the Jews, who had become very numerous in Rome.

5 It was said to have come from Castana, a city of Pontus, whence its name "Castanea." It is probably indigenous to Europe.

6 The Greek for "Jove's acorn."

7 Or "acorn chesnut." The same variety, Fée says, that is found in the vicinity of Perigueux, small, nearly round, and without any particular flavour.

8 The Ganebelone chesnut of Perigueux, Fée says, answers to this description.

9 On account of the prickles on the outer shell.

10 B. xvii. c. 26.

11 Fée says that the royal white chesnut of the vicinity of Perigueux answers to this.

12 "Boiling" chesnuts.

13 He alludes to wild or horse chesnuts, probably.

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