Water Chestnut

Fruit, nuts and fruit preserves - Romania

This edible fruit (Trapa natans) - also said cornaci, draci de balta, nuci de balta, coltii-dracului, fructul-dracului - of a plant that grows on the surface of still waters in the Danube Delta becomes ripe in September and has a hard surface with four spikes. The core, slightly smaller than a chestnut, is rich in starch and can be eaten boiled or dried and milled into flour.Water chestnuts are eaten as a side dish, boiled into a puree. Once dried, they can be transformed into flour and then prepared similarly to porridge (seasoned with sugar, honey or jam). Their taste and consistency has been compared to that of chestnuts and bananas. Locals recall having consumed it at a certain point or are aware it of the possibilities of transforming the plant into food, but its consumption is usually associated with times of hunger (wars, draughts), when wheat was not available. Locals typically associate it with hunger relief solutions during World War II.Subsequently, even if its taste is appreciated locally, its usage is seen as a thing of the past, associated with periods of hunger and a lack of sources of nutrients. This is one factor that might have caused its neglect as a potential food. However, the growing interest in Delta traditional gastronomy, as well as the growing tourism in Danube Delta villages, might represent an opportunity to re-examine the traditional uses of the water chestnut.