Postcard from... Catalonia


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The Independent Online

Soul music fans will be disappointed to learn than Catalonia’s annual Green Onions Festival, which took place this weekend, had absolutely nothing to do with Booker T and the MGs. But for foodies, the festival of the calçotada, as the rural Catalan region of Alt Camp calls its yearly mass consumption of green onions – also known as scallions – remains a real treat.

This year an estimated 100,000 calçots were consumed by the 40,000 people in the streets of Valls, Alt Camp’s capital. The standard cooking technique is to roast the calçot in batches of 30 or 40 on huge pyres of vine branches, then wrap them in newspapers. After peeling away the blackened outer leaves, the inner parts are dipped in a rich vegetable sauce containing almonds, tomato, garlic and olive oil.

This year’s competition to see how many green onions participants can eat suffered from some controversy. Local newspaper La Vanguardia reported that the winner for the last five years, Austrian Adria Wegrzyn, was barred in a bid to open up the competition. While the normal festival-goers can manage around 60 calcots at most, Wegrzyn had managed to wolf down 275 in 2014. His 2015 successor, one Josep Maria Godia, could only manage 115.