Calcotada: A Catalonia Gastronomical Event

calcotada calcots cataloniaA Calçotada is a gastronomical event in Catalonia that equals both laughter and… bad breath!  But what else would you expect from an event that is all about eating and celebrating calçots, a type of green onion found only in the Catalonia region of Spain?

calcotada calcots catalonia

Calcots before cooking

The Calçotada starts with getting the calçots ready for stringing on a metal wire, which makes them easier to turn, explained our calçot chef for the day, Lee Pennington, but not before we have some fun first:

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I wonder if calcots have the same effect as garlic does on keeping vampires away...

Dali had his fun with eggs, I have my fun with calçots, but enough playing around, I’m hungry!  Time to grill the  calçots – 5 minutes per side.  Not to worry if they’re black since you peel off the outer layer anyway:

calcotada calcots catalonia

Grilling the calcots for 5 minutes on each side.

Now for the best part…eating the calçots.  I held a competition  before the Calçotada, Calçot Eating Contest in Catalonia where readers guessed how many  calçots I could eat.  Guesses ranged from 1 all the way to 529 – I guess I must look like I can really pack away my food to some readers!  I ate a grand total of 6 (I later found out the average is 10 per person)!  I enjoyed the calçots, but they weren’t something I could gorge myself on – much too healthy for my tastes, although milder tasting than I had anticipated!  Nobody correctly guessed 6, but the closest was Sophie who guessed 5 and who has won herself a $25 Amazon Gift Card!  Congrats @SophieR!

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One of the six calcots that I ate.

In many ways a Calçotada reminded me of a North American style BBQ, a casual get together at someone’s house, where all the guests bring something, hang out, eat grilled food and enjoy the good weather – except that an invitation to a Calçotada can be hard to score.  Several days after the Calçotada I mentioned in passing to someone from Madrid that I had been to a Calçotada.  “You’re so lucky!  I’ve been living in Catalonia for 5 years and STILL haven’t been to one.” I decided now was not the time to tell her that the Calçotada hadn’t been held at just any old house, but had been held at Can Grau, a luxurious villa in rural Catalonia with stunning old world charm.

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The charming villa where our Calcotada was held - complete with a swimming pool!

Also, unlike a BBQ, instead of pounding back beer, guests take their turn at pouring wine down their gullets.  I made a feeble attempt by holding the vessel close to my mouth but still managed to dribble red wine all over my face and down my shirt.   Here is Richard, from Charming Villas who along with his Catalonian wife Sara, kindly hosted our Calçotada, showing how it’s really done:

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Wine as it's supposed to be drunk at a Calcotada.

It appears that I had a lot to learn about being a Catalonian, but I’ll keep my calendar open for any Calçotada invites that come my way.  I’m more than happy to practice, I won’t eat too many calçots,  I’m a cheap drunk and I promise to bring chewing gum for all your guests!

This post has been submitted to WanderFood Wednesdays, which you see more mouth watering food posts.


  1. Andrea says

    This looks like a fun event! I think you did well eating six – I can’t stand the taste of onions so I don’t think I would be able to have more than one

  2. Laurel says

    @Michael – They’re smaller than leeks and not sure about Porree, will have to look into that, but I believe they are only grown in Catalonia. They remind me of green onions, although they taste a bit different.

    @Zhu – Thankyou! :) I think the average is 10/person, but considering it was my first Calçotada, I’m OK with 6.

    @Andrea – It was really fun! Surprisingly the calcots were quite mild, or at least they are after they’ve been grilled.

  3. Laurel says

    @Italian Notes – I think they are similar, but according to Wikipedia “Calçot (Catalan pronunciation: [kəɫˈsɔts]) is a variety of green onion known as Blanca gran tardana in the Catalan language from Lleida, Catalonia. The Calçot from Valls (Tarragona, Catalonia) is a registered EU Protected Geographical Indication.[1]”

  4. Sabrina says

    Sounds like a blast! I can’t really imagine why the taste of these types of onions, but everything tastes better grilled, so why not :) The wine-drinking picture is too cool!

  5. says

    This truly was such a great day. I loved hanging out with everyone, meeting people from all over Catalonia and well, stuffing my face with calcots! I’m pretty sure I had at least 9 or 10 of them! And definitely an entire bottle of wine all by myself! Wine in the afternoon is dangerous!

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