If you ever find yourself in possession of a few thousand spring onion shoots and you aren’t quite sure what to do with them, may I suggest throwing your own calçotada?
There is a great article in English about the tradition of the calçotada on Vilaweb. You can read it here.
The best way to learn how to do a calçotada right is to arrange it so that your culturally-savvy and awesome friends organize one and invite you to participate. We were lucky to be invited to Oriol and Maia’s calçotada, where everyone worked together to collect firewood and string the calçots onto wires for grilling. Once the calçots are charred black on the outside, bunches of them are wrapped in newspaper bundles and stuffed between clay roofing tiles to trap the heat and steam the onions from the inside out. Since we were cooking for almost forty people, this took quite a while. In the meantime we explored the labyrinthine farmhouse (or masia), drank some beers, and tried to keep warm in the brisk mountain winds.
When it was time to eat, everyone gathered around the tables set up on the lawn, equipped with bowls of sauce for dipping, beverages, and a plentiful supply of napkins. When the bundles of calçots arrives, it was a free-for-all: locate the nearest pile of onions, stake out your territory, and commence baby onion mayhem. I found it easier to do this standing up. You grab the calçot by the long green shoots, rip off the charred outer layer, dunk the sweet, tender white innards into the sauce, and eat. When I say eat, I mean you tip your head back and feed the calçot into your mouth until you reach the end of the tender root and hit green leaf. Discard green stuff; marvel at the charred black crud now coating your hands (hence the napkins); and repeat.
In case eating a pile of fifteen to twenty (or more) baby onions does not sound like a satisfying meal, you should know that while this feeding frenzy is going on, some amazing person is delivering to the table a pot full of sausages and lamb fresh from the same grill where the onions were just cooking. Spicy white sausages, bloody black sausages, lamb ribs, juicy lamb thighs, all jumbled together in a pot, everyone diving in and grabbing their favorite, sticking it on a slice of fresh bread and stuffing themselves with these improvised sandwiches, then going back for more onions, then some wine (Coke if you’re me!), more meat, more wine, more calçots, until you finally have to sit down in a chair and take a break.
And yes, it is as wonderful as it sounds.