Calçotada in Terres de l’Ebre

Calçots on the Fire

CalçotadaI was invited to a Calçotada (an onion eating event) out here in Catalonia by some Catalan friends, I have to say that the hospitality was wonderful as was the weather and the food.

Neil and Food Allergies

Until I was 30 I would happily eat anything you presented me on a plate, napkin, cloth or just handed to me, just as long as it smelled good. However, since Africa, where I got very ill in Ethiopia, I have developed an intolerance/allergy to onions and vegetables that contain high sulphur, high acidity and other such things like lactose.

It’s a relatively new thing since going to Africa, I cannot process such vegetables and literally ruins me within minutes.  Last time I had a bout of said allergy I was sick (in November) for 2 days with fever and diarrhea for tasting some caramelized onions on some tapas. Suffice to say, I don’t wish to meddle with “trying” it.

Along with the onions, artichokes are also prepared, which again is high sulphur. I had to turn this down as well. 🙁

The Calçotada

So my room mate Esteban, our upstairs neighbour Alfredo and my other room (who originates from down there) went to Terres de L’Ebre to enjoy the annual Calçotada!

I guess, many things in hindsight you’d do again differently, the drive was over 2 hours long, and despite high fuel costs, the toll roads were quite expensive and for a cheap day out it soon turned out quite pricey.

Anyways, we had a blast down there in a little rural country house in an olive grove. The onions (calçots) were cooked/burnt in straight open fire which is not on embers and the wood we used was old olive branches. Traditionally, it’s done over the pruned branches of grape vines. It was quite an interesting process and the smell was quite tempting. However, I just couldn’t risk myself getting sick.

Calçots are onions that look almost like small leaks or big spring onions, apparently during the growth of the onion they keep building up the soil around the onion so that it develops a long body. The then burn onion is pinched at the base and then you simply pull the top and the edible part of the onion pulls out of the burnt shell like a husk.

So why did I go?

Did I mention it was a barbecue? Well, there was heaps of meat available cooked on a log fire, from local sausages Butifarra, lamb to pork and all variety of cuts, the taste was delicious with a very good smoked taste from the olive tree timber.

The company with almost total strangers soon became a very warming experience and although I don’t speak Catalan, nor do I speak Terres de L’Ebre Catalan (which apparently is a different Catalan all together), I managed to have a great day out!

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