The city’s fleet of diminutive orange “NUTS 4 NUTS” carts plies street corners year-round, copper pans brimming with oily mountains of honey-roasted cashews, coconut bits, almonds, and peanuts. Chestnuts, however, are available only in the colder months, and are harder to find.
Vendors slit the chestnuts’ outer skins, then roast them till the yellow nutmeats peek out like grinning gnomes. Five dollars buys you a scoop in a paper sack. It’s worth postponing your snack to carry the bundle around in your pocket for five minutes, enjoying the warm orbs tumbling around beneath the paper.
Be warned: a few roasted chestnuts go a long way. Carry your treat with you as you as a talisman while you imbibe the rest of Midtown’s sensory delights: the tolls of Salvation Army Santas’ bells, the white beard of smoke issuing from a manhole smokestack, the unexpected swishing of ski jackets as we jostle our way through holiday throngs.