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The Calçots and the Calçotada

Resembling a baby leek, a ‘calçot’ is a type of green onion  from Catalonia, picked up young between December and March, barbecued over an open fire until the outer layers are burnt and served on newspaper pages (as they will easily pick up most of the black ashes), along with ´romesco sauce´ with dried fruits and spicy tomatoes. Such occasion is called a ‘calçotada’, a lively dinner party held outdoors where you can expect all attendants to end up with their hands full of ashes and sauce, as calçots are to be peeled and eaten with bare hands; the way to eat it is to suck out the tender center while leaving the outer layers behind (easier said than done, it certainly requires skill). And, for the origin… The most widely accepted version speaks of Xat de Benaigues, a peasant in 19th century from Valls (province of Tarragona) that forgot some onions were in the fire but found a treasure in the charred result. The tradition nowadays is celebrated across all Catalonia and even some neighboring regions.