OMG as they say. Have just seen a post for an expat calçotada outing. Almost missed it again this season. So what’s the Garlic take (no pun intended) on the Catalans’ favourite gastronomic bash traditional to the town of Valls?
The calçot looks like a cross between a leek and a spring onion, and is officially defined as ‘the replanted shoot of a fully developed white onion.’ The discovery of this delicacy is attributed to a farmer called el Xat de Benaiges, who lived in Valls in the late 19th century. The name sounds so romantic. Like the Robin Hood of the Alt Camp and Tarragonés, protector of hazelnut farmers, a perfect candidate for the searing epic that will definitively put Catalan cinema on the screens of the whole world.
What I’m not clear about, though, is exactly what el Xat de Benaiges discovered. According to tradition, he roasted the shoots of a shrivelled old onion on a charcoal fire. But others say he was a leading-edge agricultural whizz who developed the whole process: sow onion seeds, pull up the shoots after a few months, leave them in a cool dry place for several more months, cut off the tops, replant, and, as they grow, repeatedly cover the tender green shoots with earth. (In Catalan this action is called ‘calçar’, which means to put shoes on, hence calçot.)
There’s a really super post here about everything calçot by food writer Sue Style. I can’t think of a more delicious way to get your fibre and all its effects.
But right now I think I’ll focus on developing the Xat de Benaiges blockbuster. A musical: that would really rock. You could have the most fantastic Kossack-style calçot-eating competition song-and-dance number with all these guys in their espardenyes and barratines leaping over the flames, flourishing their chin-to-knee bibs. Oh, and of course you would have the castellers, sardana dancing, giants and bigheads. Any choreographers and librettists out there?