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Chestnuts have been used as staple food, in the past. Early forms of polenta being made from chestnut meal, before the introduction of sweet corn/maize from the New World. The nuts were also preserved, by drying, in certain parts of Italy and Spain (where they are/where known as 'secchielli' and 'pilongas' respectfully. After drying they need soaking in water before being used. See 'Water chestnut'