dilluns, 9 de març de 2009

La calçotada

Let's talk a little bit about food and celebrations around a specific item of food today. Specifically, let's talks about "Calçots" (pronounced, approximately "kalsots") and "La Calçotada" (pronounced, approximately, "kalsutada"or "kalsotada", depending on the dialect).

By now maybe you have guessed that a calçotada is some kind of meeting with friends or family or both where you eat calçots. But what are calçots exactly (I tell you now that there is no translation for the word, not even in Spanish)? Well, simply a kind of onion, which is long, similar to a leek. So yes, we meet with some friends to eat A SPECIAL KIND OF ONION together.

Though originally from Valls or the Alt Camp region and neighbouring regions near Tarragona, calçots are eaten almost all over Catalonia (maybe not so much in the mountains...). The time for eating them is during the winter, February and March being the most favourites months to do it, as it is not as cold as December or January. Note that usually calçots are eaten outdoors.

By now you might think we are kind of crazy and you are wondering why on earth we eat onions in the middle of the winter and outdoors. Well, I can assure you there is much more I have not told you yet and you'll soon understand what makes a "calçotada" an attractive and nice thing to do.

First of all, we are in a Mediterranean climate and winter is not as cold as in other places in Europe. February, March is cold but if it is sunny you can even take out your jacket during the day.

Second, calçotades ("calçotada" in plural form) are a social thing and usually celebrated with people you get on well with. It's a very good reason to meet this people and enjoy a good meal with them while telling everyday battles and having lots of fun.

Third, we don't eat bare onions. That would be terrible. Furthermore, I once tasted a bare calçot and it was almost tasteless. Calçots would be nothing without one of these two kinds of sauce either "salvitxada" (pronounced "salbitshada") or "romesco" (pronounce "rumescu" or "romesco" depending on dialect). At home I simply call it "salsa de calçots" (calçots sauce) and I think that when I say that I mean "romesco", but I'm not sure. The recipe is quite elaborated to make, that's why a good calçots sauce makes a real difference. Well, nowadays you can find salsa romesco in the supermarkets but the traditional sauce is a thousand times better than that.

Fourth, the onions are grilled in the barbecue or the grill for better flavour. Traditionally they have to served in roof tiles. Well, last Saturday I was in a calçotada and we missed roof tiles...and well, hand-made sauce :P.

Fifth, the way of eating calçots is almost a ritual. You pick the calçots from the tile (or the plate). As they have been grilled they should be all black outside. Then you hold from the beginning of its leaves with one hand and with the other hand you grab the bottom end and pull. If the calçot is well-made the black layer should go out at once. After that you deeply dip/soak the white part of the calçot in the sauce, you lift the calçot with your hand up to the mouth and you eat it. To be rigourous in the process and to avoid staining your clothes, you use a bib. Here I show you three images of the process (I missed the bib!):

Grilled calçot

Peeled calçot in process of sauce-soaking

The end of the calçot-eating ritual: the eating

Believe or not, there are even competitions of who is the one to eat more calçots. I think it is regulated by time. Anyway, I do think this is crazy :D.

So there is even more food in it. After eating many calçots (and get black hands and face) and sauce you eat lots of grilled meat and of course dessert and bring coffee. And after that you do "sobretaula" a very typical thing here (Spain and Catalonia) in social/family meetings: you talk for hours after eating, even during more hours that the meal itself has taken. It's one of these meals where you cannot eat anything more till the next day but you feel very glad to have been part of it.

5 comentaris:

anna ha dit...

This is just a great post. I remember that cooking and eating was always important to you. But grilled onions on roof tiles, how cool is this! I'd love to try it.

betesiclicks ha dit...

Molt interessant el teu blog!
I útil per a explicar a alguns les coses extranyes que fem a Catalunya...

me'n guardo l'enllaç!

Anna ha dit...

Gràcies betesiclicks. Jo tb visitaré el teu blog :). Fins aviat!

Anna, thank you, I don't think this year we have time to eat calçots but sure next year :D.

Ramón1963 ha dit...

Interessants aportacions en aquest blog, amb moltes peculiaritats i coses curioses. Feu una ullada al nostre blog, també hi ha articles que poden ser del vostre interés.
Deixo les adreces d'interés a continuació: 3pfruits.wordpress.com i també a 3pfruits.com

Daniel Romero ha dit...

Hola Anna,

M'ha agradat molt la teva entrada sobre calçots!

Volia contactar amb tu per correu electrònic per fer-te una proposta que penso que t'agradarà. Pots contactar-me a daniel.rom92@gmail.com.