More on octopus
When my son Nico was little—about eight years old, we packed him and my two nephews, Marco, the same age, and Stefano, two years older, off to British Virgin Islands for a sailing trip the week after Christmas into the New Year. We hired a burly Captain with a beard and a limp, who smoked cheroots–perfect. We would dock in different places and I usually cooked on board.
One beautiful and bright shiny day we sailed into a cozy port, and I finished whatever story I was telling the boys, because one or the other of the three of them would remind me of where I left off the day before. This was obviously an on-going sea saga that would often take my mind into old west, and the sea-faring Sinbad-type-sailor main character would then saddle up a horse, tie on his six-guns, and ride into a town with a saloon. He would then become embroiled in a fight at the bar and later a duel with pistols alla “high noon.”
However, I digress, so while I started dinner this particular day, the boys made a friend of a young lad, who was fishing in the clear, clean, transparent water on the far side of the dock near some shops. I came out of the galley and took a walk to see what they were up to. The young fisher-fella was dangling something on the end of his bamboo pole. It was a delightful little octopus, weighing about 1/2 kilo (approximately one pound). I asked what the fisherman was going to do with it and he shrugged and said he might throw him back. I bargained with him and for the price of one American greenback, I purchased the live, lively, squiggling mollusca. The fish-monger chose not to join us, but my curious boys watched as I put the creature into several plastic bags and dashed him repeatedly against a huge rock. Then I cleaned and cooked him (as explained in the previous blog!) with an audience of three in attendance—it was their first bounty-of-the-sea-to-table experience—and that evening, we dined on the freshest possible chilled octopus salad. I have never seen boys so ravenous and wanting to taste!
For the faint of heart, you can buy already cooked octopus in the fish department of Whole Foods–at about 17 times what I paid for it, but very worth it. You’re welcome for the plug, Whole Foods Market.