Nearly everyone knows about Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, but have you heard about the magosto? The magosto is a fall celebration that involves roasting chestnuts and chorizos over open fires. It's an extremely important holiday in Galicia, especially in Orense, where Ana and her family are from.
The magosto is always on November 11, the day of San Martín, the patron saint of Orense. The tradition is to go up into the mountains just outside of town, build bonfires, and roast chestnuts and chorizo, which are served with a young red wine. Roasted potatoes and empananas are also typical.
Want to try throwing your own magosto party? First, start with good chestnuts. We've been very pleased with the Italian Marroni-type chestnuts sold by Correia Chestnut farm. They taste exactly like the chestnuts we enjoy in Spain. (Most of the American hybrids don't). See my post on roasting chestnuts for information on how to prepare chestnuts.
Next, you'll need chorizo. La Tienda carries a high-quality cooking chorizo. They're perfect for grilling.
The best young red wine? A Bierzo, which is right next door to Galicia, and also very serious about the magosto. See my post on Bierzo wine for more information.
If you want to go all out, make some Galician-style empanadas. See my recipes for empanadas.
The perfect ending to a magosto celebration would be a queimada--a flaming Galician punch.
You don't have to celebrate the magosto to enjoy chestnuts the Spanish way. In fall castañeras (the ladies who run the chestnut stands) roast chestnuts over open fires on street corners all over the country.
One of the great pleasures of being in Spain in the fall and winter is eating hot roasted chestnuts from the castañera on a chilly day. The chestnuts are usually served in a piece of folded newspaper. They keep your hands warm as you walk and eat. Their flavor is earthy and slightly sweet. There is really nothing like them.
See my other chestnut recipes to learn about other things you can do with chestnuts. You can coat them with chocolate:
Or make them into a cake: