The appetising smell of roasted corn on the cob and chestnuts would mesmerise me as father and I walked from Karaköy to Istiklal Boulevard via Tünel. Clutching onto to 50 grams of chestnuts in a paper bag, I would take in the scenes, curious and amazed. It gives me a sense of happiness to remember the long-haired metalheads, the punks in colourful clothes, people going places in their own stride in the crowds and chaos, the breaks we had at the Yeşilçam teahouse. Looking back, in my child’s mind, I feel I was latently exposed to a certain culture and custom and feel grateful. Thank you, dad!

Those days are long gone and I miss them yet there are things etched on my mind which are enduring. Chestnuts are one of them. Before I set foot in a professional kitchen, my knowledge of preparing chestnuts was limited to roasting. Now, having learned and practiced more, chestnuts have become an ingredient which I use with respect to the past and pleasure for the present. The versatile chestnut can be used in soups and rice, candies and deserts and much more; making it one of my favourite winter ingredients. Because it has a past, it is part of street culture, it reminds us of the new year but most importantly it is laden with memories. Chestnuts have brought up these memories which brings me to my season’s greetings. May the new year bring you hope, peace and fond memories.