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Spring Onions: 'Calçots' and the 'Calçotada'

A Century-Old Tradition

How the 'Calçots' are Prepared

The 'Calçotada'

dimarts, 24 de gener de 2006
The 'calçotada' is one of the most popular traditions of Catalan cooking. The meal is based on 'calçots', or the young shoots of spring onions, barbecued on hot coals or a wood fire and accompanied by a sauce that can be more or less spicy and that is knows as 'salvitxada' or 'romesco'.

The 'calçots', eaten with gusto particularly during the months of January, February and March, are cultivated with great care throughout the year. The area in which this vegetable is grown stretches across four Catalan counties: Alt Camp, Baix Camp, Tarragonès and Baix Penedès, which make up the protected geographical distinction 'Calçot de Valls', a label that denotes a quality product that is both simple and exquisite.

The name of this geographical distinction is not random. The town of Valls, the capital of the county of Alt Camp, is the true cradle of 'calçots' and the 'calçotada', and each year around this time the biggest and most popular of these meals is offered: the 'Gran Festa de la Calçotada', which is twenty-five this year and will be held on the 29th January, along with a wide range of activities and one indisputable protagonist: the spring onion.

A Century-Old Tradition

+ The town of Valls is the true cradle of the 'calçotada'.
It is said that the culinary origins of the 'calçots' date from the end of the 19th century, specifically 1896, when a farmer from Valls, known as Xat de Benaiges, had the idea of cooking the onion shoots on a wood fire. This gave rise to a tradition that was soon to take root among the population of Valls, with meals of spring onions taken outdoors on holidays. With the 'calçotades' held by the Arts Club of L'Olla in the mid-20th century, which invited well-known figures of the arts world of Barcelona, 'calçotades' spread beyond Alt Camp until they attained the great popularity they currently enjoy.

How the 'Calçots' are Prepared

+ The 'calçots' are cooked on a roaring wood fire.
The 'calçots' are cooked on a roaring wood fire after having laid them out properly on the grill all separated from each other to ensure they are well cooked. When they are done, i.e., when the end is soft and they are totally black, they are taken off the grill and put into bundles, wrapped in newspaper to keep in the heat, placed on a tile and taken to the table.

The 'Calçotada'

+ The 'calçotada' is one of the most popular traditions of Catalan cooking.
The 'calçots' are peeled and eaten using one's fingers, hanging them into the mouth. Usually, a bib is worn to keep one's clothes clean. Dipped into the 'salvitxada' sauce, only the white part, the most tender, is eaten. But the 'calçotada', both a meal and a party at the same time, doesn't begin and end with 'calçots'. The same barbecue is then used to cook typical Catalan sausages and lamb, and the whole thing is washed down with red wine from a traditional communal drinking vessel, the 'porró'.


  • La calçotada
    A l'Ajuntament de Valls, ciutat que n'és bressol.
  • La calçotada
    Una altra pàgina relativa a aquesta tradició culinària, amb informació diversa de la comarca de l'Alt Camp.
  • Gran Festa de la Calçotada de Valls
    Pàgina de la Cambra Oficial de Comerç i Indústria de Valls sobre la menjada de calçots de més anomenada, que es farà el 29 de gener. Història de la festa i de la calçotada, programa d'activitats...
  • Calçot de Valls
    Descripció d'aquesta Indicació Geogràfica Protegida i dels altres productes de Catalunya amb aquest segell de qualitat.


  • The sauce for the 'calçotada' is made from roasted almonds and hazelnuts, roasted garlic and tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar and a local red pepper.
  • The 'calçot' is a very healthy product, as it contains a lot of water and is rich in phosphorous, iron, potassium, zinc and folic acid.
  • As well as the birthplace of the 'calçotada', Valls is also known as the cradle of human towers, built by 'castellers', a two-century Catalan tradition.


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Els orígens d'aquesta menjada popular i festiva.
Què és la Indicació Geogràfica Protegida Calçot de Valls?
Propietats sanes del calçot.
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