I feel like welcoming the spring in a big way this year. We had a wet, cool winter here in Los Angeles. I am ready for the resurrection of the season. Maypoles and Easter bonnets are swell, but they are not going to be enough this year. I need to welcome spring with something edible.
In Spain, springtime is welcomed with a calçotada, the annual flame-licked ritual of grilling calçots, a sort of sweet, tender spring onion, over an open fire. It’s a very special food event in Catalonia and whole towns gather in the public square to devour these sweet alliums. They are similar to leeks or spring onions and are served blackened from the ashes of vine fed flames. The revelers pluck the hot charred onions from the ashes and slide off the sooty outside layers before slipping the silken centers, and smoke tinged leaves down their throats. Watch this video from InfoCatalan to see an authentic calçotada.
If you are ever offered the opportunity to join in on a calçotada, my advice is– jump at the chance. Get on a plane, drive like a lunatic, or walk if you have to. Because a true calçot is as sweet as a Maui onion, with an herbal flavor similar to ramps. But what makes them so special is the slightly bitter earthiness from the smoke and char of a wood burning fire.