The Los Angeles Times recently ran a familiar-seeming article about the resurgence of American chestnuts. Perhaps it was familiar because CHOW’s own Nicholas Day wrote practically the same article last year, even down to the Brussels sprouts recipe—perhaps chestnuts’ best-known culinary pairing.
This only goes to show that the rebirth of the American chestnut is a slow process, and we’ll probably read plenty more articles about it before the first blight-resistant trees bear fruit sometime around 2015. In fact, the story of the mid-century devastation of billions of American chestnut trees is so compelling that someone recently wrote an entire book on the subject, which is mentioned in the Los Angeles Times piece. It’s American Chestnut: The Life, Death, and Rebirth of a Perfect Tree, by Susan Freinkel. According to a lengthy review in American Scientist, the book gives us the history of the blight, but also details all the effort that’s gone into attempts to reintroduce the trees.
For those who have never had an American chestnut, an Atlantic magazine article by Corby Kummer from 2003 does a bang-up job of describing their flavor and their advantages in cooking.