Calcotada; Calcotada means ‘the feast of the Calcot,’ so when you are eating Calcots, it’s referred to as Calcotada.
Date: March 26, 2013
City, Country: Barcelona, Spain
On my second day in Barcelona I was introduced to one of Barcelona’s specialty foods. My group and I went on a long hike up to the top of a hill outside the city center of Barcelona. There was a small restaurant named Can Marti hidden in between the few houses on the hill. It was cool because it didn’t look like a restaurant: It looked like a house, but once you went inside there were about 10 tables for dining. Anyway, we had these grilled green onion-looking things to eat. They were so good. We had to use our hands. It got a little messy but really fun!
A calçot is a large green vegetable belonging to the onion family, though it looks more like a leek with a green stem and white edible section. Eaten with a romesco sauce, they are absolutely delicious. There is only one way to prepare them to make the best of their flavor, and that is over a charcoal grill. At the table they are dipped in romesco, which is composed of olive oil, hazel nuts, pine nuts, nora peppers, roasted garlic and roasted tomatoes.
What is your full name?
What food did I try?
How did I feel when I tried it?
It was fun because we got to use our hands. It tasted so good. The sauce kind of tasted like pasta sauce, and the Calcots were very soft after being cooked on the grill. They were easy to eat and I ate about 12 of them. When we were finished, my hands were covered in the burnt part of the Calcot and romesco sauce.
How is the food prepared?
The dining room of the small restaurant room had many windows. I could see a man grilling the Calcots on a bar-b-cue looking grill. When we got them, they looked crispy and black like they were burnt. The way to eat Calcots requires some skill and practice. You hold the top green part with one hand and then grab the burnt part with the other hand. You pull the burnt part off like a sock and the inside is a soft white onion-looking thing. It doesn’t taste like an onion even though it looks like a big green onion. It tastes like soft carrot or potato. Then you dip it in the romesco sauce that tastes like pasta sauce. So it was kind of like dipping mashed potatoes in pasta sauce. But a lot better.
Is the food connected to the local environment? How?
Calcots originate from a variety of scallion from Lerida (the name of the town), Spain. They were developed by a peasant farmer from the southern Catalan town of Valls at the turn of the 20th century. A local farmer planted the sprouts of garden onions and continued to cover them with earth so a longer portion of the stem remained white and edible. Known as calcar in Catalan, it is an agricultural term meaning “to cover the trunk of a plant with soil” as well as “to put one’s shoes on.” And so, the calcot was born, well, created.