Friday, March 25, 2011

Meal of the Century - Botin (Madrid)

Day 8
Two words: some would think sadistic, others would salivate (I was part of the latter).

                  Suckling Pig

It was our last night in Spain and the final stop was at a place famous for this specialty...would the skin be as crispy as I imagined? As crispy as my soul would be burning in Hell for eating baby piggys? I hoped so.

Botin was in the Guinness Book of World’s Records as the earliest restaurant in the world (founded in 1725) and got clocked as one of my all-time, favorite meals. Within moments, we were face to face with whole pigs splayed on cast-iron platforms through an open, kitchen door.

I know it sounds ridiculous, but they looked like they were smiling. Maybe it was because I was wrought with the same delusional desires seen in cartoons, where friends stranded together on an desert island start picturing each other as hot dogs.

But then again, when the chefs saw Mom clicking pictures they invited her into the kitchen, so maybe the pigs were smiling, surrounded by a warmth more appealing than the heat of the wood-burning ovens.

Or it could be that they were served with loving care from the familial, yet expert waiters, dressed in white jackets and practicing traditional, tableside service. The roasted pig sealed in its centuries-old secrets and salty juices with a seared skin worth the trip to Hell.

And, amazingly enough, the vegetables were on par with the pork. Their unconventional choice of artichokes, peapods and carrots sautéed in pig fat and then tossed with more pork (Iberian ham) was fresh and seasonal with the same caloric intake as a double cheeseburger...the best role a vegetable's played since Jack Nickolson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

It is the quiet pigs that eat the mealIrish Proverb

My ability to talk exceeds my ability to eat, so when everyone's ready for dessert, I'm still enjoying the entree. I’d rather just keep my plate, but most places won’t serve the next course until everyone is done (understandably so, but not ideal for Chatty Cathy).

Our observant waiter seemed to read my thoughts (especially after I pretended to stab him with my fork when he tried to take my plate) and allowed me to stick with my savory while others began their sweet. Contentment was palpable around the table and I could barely keep my eyes open after being lulled by Botin's storybook ending (Three Little Pigs? No one seemed able to blow this house down). And since pigs were known for their fond farewells, I couldn't think of a better way to say good-bye to Spain.


Luz said...

the pigs were smiling..hahaha....YUM!!!!!!!

Lauren Ciallella said...

That's right Luz - you would have LOVED it!! Happy pigs = happy eating.