“Brown” or “chestnut”: how to avoid confusion?

“Iced chestnut”,
“Chestnut cream”,
“turkey with chestnuts” are false friends and designate specialties made from chestnuts. 127280152/JoannaTkaczuk – stock.adobe.com

Should we talk about chestnuts or chestnuts? Le Figaro make the point.

The boletus and satan boletus, the frog and the toad, the chestnut and the chestnut are distinctions of importance. The former are deliciously edible, while the latter are poisonous. “Chestnut: female of the chestnut”wrote Gustave Flaubert in his Dictionary of received ideas. The common misuse of language which consists in saying “chestnut” instead of “Brown” does not help to tell them apart. At Christmas, there will hopefully be only chestnuts in your turkey with “chestnuts”. And the “chestnuts” iced, these delicious candies eaten too quickly, will also be chestnuts, otherwise abdominal pain will spoil the party. Similarly, it is wrongly said “Chestnut cream”hence the famous “Brown’Am” marketed by La Laitière.

If we talk about the production of “chestnuts”as far as the cultivated fruit is concerned, the chestnut is therefore called “Brown” as soon as it is transformed and put in the mouth. The chestnut was indeed the staple food in poor homes in the 19th century, and it was also often served to pigs. It was therefore preferred the more noble name of “Brown”.

How not to be mistaken? Because eating a chestnut can cause nausea and stomach pain. In a chestnut bug, bristling with many fine prickles, you will find three fruits. The bug is topped with a small spike, the remains of the dried pistil. The chestnut, on the other hand, has its bug with short, thick, more widely spaced spikes, and you will only find a much rounder fruit when opening it. Identifying where they come from also allows for easy tracking. Does the fruit come from a tree planted in town, in an alley or schoolyard? It’s probably a brown one. Is the fruit, on the contrary, picked up in a forest or an orchard? It is surely a chestnut.

The French language therefore discriminates against chestnuts in favor of chestnuts. The expressions around the latter are not lacking. “Pull the chestnuts out of the fire for someone”is doing someone a favor in a risky way. Mérimée thus quotes in one of his Letters “the fools who imagine themselves working for themselves and who pull chestnuts from the fire for others”. A “Brown” whether you flank or take it, it’s a punch. “Hot chestnuts!”, it is also often said to evoke a delicate operation. In an older sense, we use the adjective “Brown” to designate the clandestine. A pig “Brown” is a pig that escaped back to the wild. Doctor “Brown” operates illegally. As to “marronage”Where “marooning”it historically designates the escape of a slave.

SEE ALSO – Erik Orsenna: “I make mistakes all the time!”


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