Calcots and What You Need to Know About Going to a Calcotada in Catalonia Spain

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Everything you need to know about calçots and about going to a Calcotada. Hint, you’re celebrating a type of green onion found only in Catalonia, Spain!

First things first, what is a calçot?

Calcotada is a type of green onion found only in the Catalonia region of Spain.

calcotada calcots catalonia

And what is a Calçotada?

It’s a gastronomical event in Catalonia that equals both waves of laughter and… bad breath! But what else would you expect from an event that is all about eating and celebrating calçots?

calcotada calcots catalonia
Calcots before cooking

The Calçotada starts with getting the calçots ready, then stringing them on a metal wire. It makes them easier to turn, explained our calçot chef for the day, Lee Pennington. But first, it was time to have some fun.

calcotada calcots catalonia_necklace
I wonder if calcots have the same effect as garlic does on keeping vampires away…

Dali had his fun with eggs, and while my adventures are usually more adventurous like hiking in the Pyrenees, or accomplishing a via ferrata with cool views or taking a hot air balloon ride over Catalonia.

I do enjoy food, especially Spanish food. I even know how to make a Spanish Omelette – Catalan style.

Still, I had to have my fun with calçots, wearing them as a necklace. But enough playing around, I’m hungry!

Time to grill the calçots – 5 minutes per side.  Not to worry if they’re black. You’ll peel off the outer layer anyway.

calcotada calcots catalonia fire
Grilling the calcots for 5 minutes on each side.

Now for the best part…a calçots eating competition!

Guess how many I could eat?

6. yes, a grand total of 6. But the average is 10. So not bad considering that it was my first time.

I enjoyed the calçots, but they weren’t something I could gorge myself on. Although they were milder tasting than I had anticipated!

eating calçots at a a Calcotada in Catalonia, Spain
One of the six calçots that I ate.

What’s a Calçotada Really Like?

In many ways, a Calçotada reminded me of a North American style BBQ. It’s a casual get together at someone’s house. All the guests bring something, hang out, eat grilled food and enjoy the good weather.

The main difference is 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.

calcotada calcots catalonia_villa
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.

Richard and his Catalonian wife Sara from Charming Villas kindly hosted our Calçotada. He showed us how it’s really done:

calcotada calcots catalonia_wine
Wine as it’s supposed to be drunk at a Calcotada.

It appears that I had a lot to learn about being a Catalan.

But my calendar is always 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 perhaps most importantly, I’ll bring chewing gum for all your guests!


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11 thoughts on “Calcots and What You Need to Know About Going to a Calcotada in Catalonia Spain”

  1. 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. @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. @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. 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. 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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