Ever heard of a calçotada? If you’ve never been to Catalonia, chances are you might be hearing about this for the first time. I personally only discovered calçots after moving to Barcelona, and I have to admit, it took some practicing before I finally mastered the art of eating Catalan spring onions without getting myself covered in sauce or ash from head to toe.
Calçotadas: spending hours near a campfire eating char-grilled sweet onions with Romesco (red pepper sauce).
When you think about it, it’s nothing out of the ordinary. That´s because calçotadas are more about the spirit of things than the food you eat. Sure, the food is great and anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m a sucker for scallions, but there’s nothing I love more than finding a good excuse to round up the troops and escape the big city.
You’ll find that many markets and restaurants in Barcelona offer calçots in Spring. There are many different ways to prepare and serve them, but traditionally calçots are grilled over charcoal. So naturally the best calçotadas are the ones in the countryside. If the opportunity presents itself and you find the time, don’t be afraid to venture out of Barcelona. It’s a nice way to meet locals and see a Masia (aka a typical Catalan rural house) from up-close.
If you’re not quite sure where to get started, they say Tarragona is a great place to visit if you wish to fill your belly with delicious grilled spring onions. I’ve personally never been there for this purpose, but if the Catalans say so, there must be some truth to that!
A traditional calçotada is completely different from restaurant dining. You can spend hours outdoors eating, drinking, laughing, contemplating life…it’s all about enjoying the moment and taking things slow (the last calçotada I went to almost lasted an entire day!). In other words, go when you don’t have much else going on, wear comfy clothes (leave your heels and fancy shirts at home, eating calçots is a very messy business. Some people even wear bibs to avoid getting completely covered in ash and sauce) and whatever you do, try to avoid rainy days.