We’ve been very fortunate in that we’ve recently been introduced to a couple of these by some of Pietro’s lovely post-doctoral research colleagues.
So yesterday we went to a Catalan spring onion party – which the Catalans call a ‘calçotada’. This is a party where folk gather to consume barbecued ‘calçots’ (pr. ‘cal-SOTS’), which are a variety of spring onions which are extremely popular in Catalunya when they are in season in – you guessed it – the spring. Calçots are like normal spring onions except that, as they grow, the depth of soil is increased so as to lengthen the tender white parts at the bottom.
Here's a little video (from YouTube) of the big spring onion fiesta in Valls, Catalunya, complete with Catalans in fetching red hats:
A month or so ago, a couple of Pietro’s Basque colleagues organised a traditional Basque winter event - a coach trip to a ‘sagardotegia’ (cider-house) near San Sebastian for a Saturday lunchtime 'txotx', a sort of cider-tasting gathering with lunch.. This took place in the town of Astigarraga, the centre of cider-making in the Basque Country. There are many cider-houses in the town (and many more in the wider San Sebastian area), and people come in coach-loads from the surrounding area during the cider season (December-March, after the apples have been harvested in the autumn.)
It was interesting therefore to see what happened to Pietro’s young Spanish and Basque colleagues at this event. Because of the routine of taking a small amount of cider and drinking it quite quickly before it loses its fizz, and then going back for more every 5 minutes or so during the meal, we must have ended up drinking a pint of cider in an hour or so – a relatively large amount, relatively quickly, for the Spanish! Consequently, quite a few of them got drunk quite quickly and quite uncharacteristically.
We then all went on to an Irish pub in the nearby town of Hernani where they proceeded to get even more drunk on quite small amounts of beer. (There are Irish pubs everywhere, by the way: you know the kind of thing - not really Irish at all but with an Irish name and vaguely British pub-like décor. There’s one in Bilbao called ‘Mor o’r Less’!).
I am not much of a drinker, but I drank at least as much as everyone else and remained entirely sober! I looked on as amusing and occasionally mildly riotous scenes of drunkenness developed, and several people had to take ‘time out’ to sober up. Eventually a chaotic return to Bilbao was made at about midnight, by which time everyone had calmed down.
In true Spanish style, after a day of eating and drinking which had started at lunchtime, we were then entreated to go on to ‘Rasputin’, the Russian bar in the new town, for vodka cocktails….