¨Calçots, what is zis?¨ came the voice our Group Sales Manager across the office the other day.
¨they are a bit like small leeks¨ I replied, knowing full well what the next question would be.
¨Leeks, what is zis?¨
The allium cepa to give it its proper name is in fact a type of onion and the Catalans are mad for them!
Whilst most Catalan traditions such as Pan con Tomate, Castellers, Caganers and the like, are quickly pointed out to the visitor to be either ancient, better than Spanish traditions or somehow connected to the birth of civilisation, the Calçotada is a modern phenomena, sprouting quite literally from a little town called Valls near Tarragona at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Every year as winter draws to close and the spring sunshine bathes this part of North East Spain the locals dash outside, set up a barbeque and get grilling.
A Calçotada can be in the street, at the beach or at one of the many fine Masias that litter the Catalan countryside, but the format is pretty much the same; long tables, everyone wearing bibs, a special sauce called Salvitxada (usually a secret recipe created by a Grandmother), hundreds of calçots and lots of alcohol and noise.
As traditions go, this one is great fun, so if you happen to be in our neck of the woods this month and you fancy putting on a bib, eating thin onions, grilled on a barbeque, served on a roof tile and dunked in a ‘secret sauce’ then you’re in luck,
¨it is zee perfect time of year!¨