The following is an excerpt from the excellent Lonely Planet book, World Food: Spain, which, sadly, is out of print:
Now to that other famous Madrid-style dish, cocido a la madrileña. The word ‘cocido’ is simply the past participial form of the verb, to cook. It is a stew of chicken, chorizo sausage, maybe some ham or other cured meat, potatoes, cabbage and chickpeas and macaroni. Eat a dinner of it and it will seem to stay with you for three days. It is typically eaten ‘from front to back,’ starting with the broth along with the macaroni or rice, then you eat the chickpeas, then you eat the meat. You can do this at one meal, or you can do it over a span of three days. We recommend the three day approach. We have never seen anybody stagger from the table having downed an entire dinner of cocido. It is sometimes referred to as the ‘miracle of the loaves and the fishes’ because though there might not seem to be enough as you look at it, in the end everyone is full and there is always some left over.
But this is about the dullest dish in Spain. There are so many good things to eat that we don’t know why any non-Spaniard would bother with cocido except as an experiment in culinary anthropology. It’s not that we think it bad. It doesn’t have enough taste or smell to be bad. Its long cooking in much water seems to strip its good parts of their native goodness. And yet the Madrileños swoon for this stuff. They dream of it when away from home. They even compose songs to it. We tell no lie.
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