Calçotadas: Catalonia’s onion obsession

Vacation rentals in Barcelona can get booked up quickly during the summer as it is one of the most popular times to visit Catalonia. However, deciding to take a Barcelona holiday in the winter isn’t such a bad idea especially if you like onions! Why? Because it’s calçot season; a time for good food and good wine!

What is a Calçot?

A calçot is a type of onion that is similar to a scallion, spring onion, green onion, salad onion, or the like. They’re harvested during the winter months in rural Catalonia, and are served in a rather unique and interesting way that makes them truly delicious and hard to put down!

Catalonia Calçotades

If you’re staying in a villa in Barcelona during the winter, you may hear the locals discussing the calçotada…but what is IT? A calçotada is a festival celebrating the calçot, where the onions are barbecued, steamed, and then eaten as a snack, usually dipped in a traditional Romesco sauce from Tarragona. There are also grilled meats, crusty breads, and copious amounts of local red wine.

Finding Calçotadas

If you’re keen to visit a calçotada during your holiday in Spain, then consider visiting the town of Valls in January, which is when the region’s biggest annual calçotada takes place. However, you’re sure to find smaller calçotadas taking place in restaurants throughout calçot season, which runs from December to April.

Even if onions aren’t really your thing, Valls is still a great place to visit in the winter months. Spend time in Plaça del Blat in the historic centre of the town, home to the Castells Museum, where you can learn more about another of Valls’ famous attractions: the human towers, which have been a unique Catalan artistic style since the 1700s!

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Catalan custom: Mushroom hunting

The summer season has passed in Catalonia which means mushrooms have begun to sprout all over the Spanish hills. These edible fungi help usher in the ages-old Catalan custom of mushroom hunting.

Throughout Catalonia during this time of year, bolitaires (or mushroom hunters) take to the fertile fields to hunt for and collect mushrooms after the summer harvest. Catalans have passed down the tradition through generations as groups head out–baskets in tow–for early morning weekend rummaging.

A few varieties are known to grow in the region (including ceps and trompetas) and serve as complementary ingredients to a number of dishes like omelettes, soups, and salads.

 

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New to gathering these treasured trumpets? The government of Catalonia has issued information regarding how to properly gather mushrooms; how and whether you need to obtain a mushroom-gathering permit; and further information about mushrooms themselves, including which are safe to eat, which may be poisonous, and helpful nutrition facts.

If you plan to visit Catalonia in the fall, grab a basket and enjoy this community-building tradition among the lush forests of northeastern Spain. If you can’t make it to the countryside, heaps of Barcelona’s markets (like La Bouqueria) sell varieties of the plant so you’ll have no shortage of the nutrient-rich Catalonian wonder. Happy hunting!

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