In Barcelona, do as the Catalans do! And in February, you have to eat calçots! Anybody who has visited Barcelona during the cold months of February and the beginning of March has surely found calçots (pr. Cal’sots) on their menu, and brought home a very happy memory for sure. Eating calçots is a very popular and widespread seasonal tradition in Catalonia and a very convivial one. If you have the occasion, try to catch up and join any open “street festival” calçots events throughout the city.
What is a calçot?
But what is a calçot? And how do you eat it? Calçots are a variety of the scallion, or green onion, milder than the onion, smaller than the leek. The name comes from the verb calçar, which means to add soil. The purpose of adding soil is to cover the little onion while growing, so it stays white, hence tender and edible. The traditional calçotada is the actual calçot fest following the harvest.
The preparation is simple and rudimental: calçots are grilled on a woodfire till burnt, then wrapped in newspaper to preserve humidity and served on a terracotta tile. You must peel the calçots by grabbing the tip and taking off all the burnt outer layer in one movement. Then you dip the white, well-cooked and tender heart of the onion in a delicious sauce typically made of bell peppers, roasted or raw almonds, pine nuts, hazelnuts, roasted garlic, and olive oil called Romesco sauce, and finally you let it land in your mouth! And yes, you will have to wear a bib, it’s absolutely mandatory! Even the most upscale restaurants will offer you one to wear! The use of forks and knives is prohibited, too! Calçots are to be eaten rigorously with your bare hands. You are usually given a pair of disposable plastic gloves, but do you really want to miss the fun of getting your hands all black?
Calçots are delicious and you will soon find yourself wanting one after the other. And don’t worry, meat lovers out there! The calçots dish is traditionally served with butifarra (rich Catalan pork sausage) or lamb chops. And of course, all respectable calçotada is served with abundant red wine!
Where can you eat calçots in Barcelona?
So, if you are in Barcelona for a short break, do not miss giving this typical Catalan food a try. Most restaurants serve them à la carte and usually at a very affordable price, since it’s a popular type of dish, but we strongly recommend you join one of the many street fests in which you will share a table with locals and visitors alike, enjoying a sunny February day, savoring the first warm rays announcing springtime.
At TicketsBarcelona.com we recommend the festival organized by Slow Food at the Mercat de la Terra, a Saturday Farmers Market held in the famous “Three Chimneys Square” in the Poble Sec neighborhood. Right close to the beautiful hill of Montjuic, where you can find majora attractions such as the Magic Fountain, the Spanish Village, the Olympic Stadium, the MNAC and the Miro Museum.
The calçotada street event will be organized this Saturday, 25th of February, and next Saturday, March 4th. All you have to do is show up, grab a ticket and wait to be served your share of calçots!