Monalia's World

Observations on a New Life in Spain

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10 June, 2008 (11:11) | Living in Europe | By: admin

After working so much with computers, 1’s and 0’s, emails, ftp, html, programmers in India, virtual everything without ever meeting or knowing anyone we work with online, a weekend out in the country feasting on calçots with thirty other guests turned out to be especially exhilarating because it was so tactile.

Our new, best friend Nuria picked us up in a taxi and we drove to meet Maurizio, the restaurateur, who took us south, towards Sitges, in his car. We eventually ended up in the mountains where there are some small pueblos and farms. We stopped at a farm near Maurizio’s home and the husband and wife who owned the farm marched us out into a field of onions. We started digging up our calçots (a type of onion that grows in Catalunia only in the months of January and February. They look like very large spring onions,). We would dig them up, shake the dirt off, separate them into their individual stems, then count them and lay them in a bundle. All together we pulled up over 300 calçots for the party, our hands getting caked with rich, red clay dirt.

We transported the calçots back to Maurizio’s and he started a wood fire in a large wheelbarrow. After the blaze was going hot enough he covered the wheelbarrow with metal grills and we started throwing the calçots on to roast. No cleaning or skinning or preparation, just roasted complete with the dirt from the farm. We kept turning the onions so they cooked on both sides, burning our hands, smoke getting in our eyes. Then we would pull the calçots off, wrap them in newspaper and stick them in a plastic garbage bag and let them sit.

As we were doing this the long outdoor table was being filled with other types of food. We were told to sit down and everyone seemed to take great pleasure and genuine excitement in the fact that we had never tasted or even heard of calçots before. We were shown how to grab the soft, burnt black onions and peel away the skin to reveal a bright white inside that we would then dip into a variety of sauces and then eat. On the table were piles of hot calçots, and piles of the leftover calçots stems, bowls of olives and chips, plates of chicken wings and drumsticks. Everything eaten with the hands, no plates, no knives or forks. By the end of the meal my hands hand farm dirt, ashes from the fire and sauces and grease from the various foods were stuffing into our faces. It was great!

The people couldn’t seem to get enough of the calçots. It seemed like we ate all 300 of them.
When we ran out of calçots out came a huge variety of desserts. Ice creams, cream-filled pastels, the merengue that we brought. After dessert Mark pulled out his guitar and played while people chatted. We were hoping there would be more musicians with instruments there, and indeed there were other musicians, but they came empty handed with one sole purpose. to devour calçots.

Addendum – 2020