By Margaux Cintrano
Pics courtesy Mara Verdasco/La Bola
ADAFINAS, A SEPHARDIC JEWISH HOT POT & ITS HISTORY
A pot of Cocido Madrileño is served at TABERNA LA BOLA, in the Santo Domingo neighborhood, at Calle La Bola number 5, with a fascinating history and lots of flavour, the true definition of Spanish “comfort food”.
The national Spanish dish dates back to the Medieval Ages and makes thorough use of the bounty of the vast agricultural plateau that surrounds the Capital of Spain. At its most basic, the stew consists of meats, vegetables and legumes cooked in savoury broth.
Every country has its own pot-au-feu, a traditional French stew of beef and vegetables cooked in earthen casserole. Cocido Madrileño is the Spanish pot-au-feu.
Culinary historians believe that the Cocido is derived from ADAFINA, the long cooking dish of chickpeas, meats, garlic and seasoned stock by the Sephardic Jews who once inhabited Spain in great numbers. In advance of the Jewish Sabbath, Jewish cooks placed their ingredients in a iron or clay pots called VUELCOS nestled in warm ashes and sealed the pot with bread dough. ADAFINA denotes covered in the Arabic language. The contents cooked slowly in the ashes and stayed hot until the end of their morning prayers on Saturday mornings.
“The earliest known record of ADAFINA dates back to the 14th century”, states Author DavidGitliz, co author of The Lives and Recipes of Spain´s Secret Jews. He further stated, that “as long as the Jewish Injunction against working started, Jewish housewives have been making one pot or hot pot meals on Fridays to keep warm for the next day, The Sabbath”.
After the onset of the Inquisition in 1478, Conversos, Jews who converted to Catholicism, had to prove their conversions were true, and added ham, bacon, sausage, pork meats and blood sausage to their Adafinas. By the late 15th century, such stews were called Hamin by the Hebrews and Trasnochados by the Spaniards. The name Cocido was commonly used by the later 1500s, if not earlier.
AT TABERNA LA BOLA
For a “red carpet” restaurant experience, you shall encounter an authentic recipe of the Cocido Madrileño at the affordable venue located near the Palacio Real where the VERDASCO FAMILY has been cooking Cocido Madrileño since 1870.
For generations, Cocido Madrileño was strictly a home cooked meal but modern day Madrileños and foreign visitors and expatriates increasingly have been eating it for lunch at restaurants. There is an ancient Spanish idiom which best describes the experience: “SOTA, CABALLO Y REY”. This represents Knave, Horse and King, and which derived from the Spanish Card deck called Naipes.
The three course lunch is served as follows: the broth with noodles ( fideos) precedes the legumes ( the chick peas ) and vegetables, which in turn set the stage for the meats.
The famous LA BOLA cocido include dried chickpeas, pork soup bones,pork knuckle meat, bacon slab, stewed chicken, chorizo, potatoes, cabbage, olive oil and fideos (thin Spanish noodles) cooked in individual clay pots over slow fire for four hours.