Cocido Madrileño in Madrid: A Comedy of Horrors (and deliciousness)

Always willing to spend our money on food above all else, Jordan and I made a reservation for a traditional Cocido Madrileño at Malacatin, a place recommended by a friend. The food was flavorful, rich, and resulted in one of our three experiences in unexpected extreme gluttony, also referred to by me as an incident in food terror. This occurs when you are faced with exquisitely prepared food which you are excited to eat and due to circumstances beyond your control, that food accumulates in terrifying quantities which you feel pressured to consume. The first incident occurred at Craigie on Main when a 3 course meal snowballed out of our control due to the generous addition of several free courses from to Jordan’s Boston chef connections. Second, at Bergamot in Cambridge in a similar chef to chef quid pro quo tale. Finally, Madrid. We showed up ready to try some traditional food, knowing little else. They had our name, knew we were coming, they were so prepared…we let them swaddle us in warm, vermouth lined ignorance while we teetered on the edge of a culinary eruption. The image of a blueberry Violet from Willy Wonka comes to mind except with a cloudy pork fat color. What we didn’t know was that we should have ordered only one meal for the two of us to share. We also didn’t know there was more than one course. Act 1, excitement! Olives, pickles, a pot of hot, rich pork broth served with pasta, a platter of silky chickpeas, potatoes and stewed cabbage and two loaves of thick crusty bread. Delicious, we dig in, happily. Act 2, we curiously cut into cubes of pork fat. I distribute one of these caloric cubes into my chickpea broth. Act 3, we nervously eye a platter of pigs trotters tiptoeing towards our table. Not far behind, a half chicken and a cured, boiled, pig part elbow each other for room on the remaining white patches of table cloth. We ask, ‘if we cannot eat all of this, can we bring it home?’ they say ‘no’. Act 4, afraid to twist or generally move my stuffed self I am horrified at the unexpected arrival of a platter of steamingly delicious chorizo, morcilla (blood sausage) and beef. The walls seem to be enclosing as our stomachs expand. Surrounded by pleased, prepared patrons, we piled the food on our plates, not wanting to waste, wishing for a life saver to-go container. Act 5, the homeward waddle, hilarity, confusion, defeat, a five hour nap, hoping to feel hungry again one day.