Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Sant Jordi

My rose and Tonis book, on the morning of Sant Jordi.. I also received a book..
Placa Catalunya setting up for a long day of selling roses..
The traditional red rose with a sprig of wheat.
Pink and cream..
Little plastiline Sant Jordis and dragons...

Aren't these the most amazing roses you've ever seen??
A lovely old man taking a break from the crowds..
The Catalan flag
More roses..
Even the mossos are buying roses..

Catalonia's most famous legend Sant Jordi, is celebrated throughout Catalunya on the 23rd of April. The legend tells how a wicked dragon terrorized a small village, devouring all the far animals until there were none left. The dragon then demanded one of the villagers on condition that he would vacate the town. The villagers agreed, drew straws and the King's daughter was selected as the sacrificial victim. Only minutes before the princess, dressed in white, was about to be eaten by the dragon, a young knight appeared on horseback, speared the dragon with his sword and saved the princess. Where the dragon fell, a rose bush appeared with red roses the colour of the dragon's blood. The knight plucked a rose and gave it to the princess before riding off out of the gates and into the sunset. They later fell in love, got married and lived happily ever after. (Of course.)
To commemorate this legend, on the day of Saint Jordi, men traditionally give women a rose while females give males a book. Although this might seem slightly unfair, the atmosphere throughout Catalunya on the 23rd of April can not help but impress.
Sant Jordi is fast becoming my favourite holiday. Not unlike Valentines Day, the florists and streets are full of people selling long stem roses. Traditionally one red rose would be wrapped in newspaper along with a sprig of wheat and a small red and yellow striped ribbon (the colours of the catalan flag). These days however, it is not uncomman to see pink, yellow, blue! and even multi -colour roses. This morning I walked down into the centre of town, to really feel the atmosphere and be amoungst all the lovers and books and roses. Originally just a day for men to give their beloved a rose, it has since been transformed into national book day. So when a girl gets a rose from her man, in return she gives him a book. (Im still not so pleased with this part, why can't a girl get a good book too??)
So off i went, on my stroll of the city, i saw 80 year old men buying roses for their wives, i saw kids young lovers and old lovers, walking hand in hand. Oh what a romantic i am. But how sweet it was, to see everyone so happy and in love.


A Calcot is a variety of spring onion which is cultivated in the Tarragona region of Catalunya. To obtain them, an elaborate growing process is required. The Calcotada which originates in Valls, a town in Tarragona, is made by cooking calcots over an open flame. When cooked the spring onions char on the outer layer, known as ?camiseta? (Spanish) or ?samarreta (catalan)?.
This outer layer is removed, dipped into a delicious Romesco sauce (a bright orange, pulverised amalgamation of garlic, almonds, tomatoes and chillies) and eaten whole, tilting your head backwards, and somewhat like a fire-eater, lowering the calcots into your mouth. A huge napkin tied around your neck is virtually essential as it is a fun, but messy process. Besides this there is the Porró? the glass drinking container from which you pour wine directly into your mouth. And if you miss?and you probably will at first...that napkin is the only thing that will help you leave the restaurant looking respectable!!!

This was my second experience of a Calcotada, and what fun it is. Toni had booked a table outside at the club house and about 30 friends and family turned up to stuff themselves full of onions. It was a really fun day, and lasted long into the evening, with many glasses and bottles and more glasses of wine!