The Localist

The Catalonian tradition of a Calçotada

Lasting from roughly January until Easter, the Catalonian tradition of a Calçotada springs up, quite literally, in a variety of places in and around the area of Tarragona. Put very simply, a Calçotada is a big barbecue that pays homage to the spring onion. This annual event, however, actually celebrates the harvest of the calçot (spring onion), and combines a heady mixture of calçots, delicious Romesco salsa, wine, grilled meat and of course the gentle sun of a Spanish winter.

Reluctant to miss out on the festivities recently, a few friends and I travelled to Valls, the so-called capital of the calçot. Valls is a small city that lies within the province of Tarragona, and is only a 30-minute bus ride from the Tarragonan bus station. Upon arrival we wondered through a small but bustling local artisan market located next to the bus station, and managed to locate one of the points where we could purchase a 9-euro bag full of Calçots, oranges, a small bottle of wine and salsa.

After wandering around the lively streets and alleys, we eventually found ourselves watching a spectacular dancing contest between varieties of large human dolls in La Plaça del Pati. Crowds gathered to watch large dancing mules, calçots and a range of differently clad human dolls dance to traditional Catalonian music.

Afterwards, the attention turned to the winners of the annual calçot contest. TV cameras were on stage as a presenter spoke to a German man about his intentions in this year’s Calçotada competition. This is where contestants must eat as many calçots as they can muster, with last year’s winner eating over 200 calçots.

I quickly lost sight of the stage disappeared as the crowd thickened, which unfortunately meant I didn’t end up catching the results.

Crowds quickly dispersed at around 3pm, leaving a few Calçotada revellers to relax in the soft January light, eating delicious food and drinking wine.  I stayed in this plaça, enjoying my calçots and soaking up the atmosphere with friends. The mood was light and stomachs were definitely full as we left with the setting sun to head back to Tarragona.




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Shafagh Helalat

At the end of last year, miles away from Iran and surrounded by Christmas shoppers and images of Santa Claus on the streets of Madrid, I was ...

Take me to....Australia….Canada….Chile....Indonesia....Iran....Mexico….Myanmar….Nepal….Pakistan....Sri LankaThailand.USA

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