23 October 2008

Horse chestnuts

This post is the result of about two weeks' action and observation -- I didn't want to post about it at first because I was slightly embarrassed by my own stupidity until I learned the extent of my stupidity.

Along the street in Ružmberok are these really beautiful trees with these rather large seeds.

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The kids have been spending a reasonable amount of time in school-sanctioned seed gathering, to what end I don't know -- though I suspect rather large rosaries.

Last week, I was walking down the street, and saw one of these seeds, identified it as a chestnut, took out a pocketknife and tried to eat it. Alas, it was highly astringent and therefore hugely disgusting. Yesterday, as I was leaving, some of my colleagues were talking about gaštan -- chestnuts. But then one said, "But we don't eat these -- there are two types, one for people and one for animals."

So it turns out that what I ate a bite out of was actually what we would call a buckeye, which is potentially poisonous to humans. Luckily my neuromuscular system did not seize up. I guess now I'll stick to buying chestnuts from the store or street vendors instead of trying to pick them up off the street myself -- because the seeds look really really similar. On the other hand, if things are going to be planted in public places, should they not be edible in order to present the greatest amount of good to the greatest amount of people?

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