January 23, 2017

Blog the Thirty-eighth: OCTOPUS

in a Seafood Salad
(plus a Bonus Baby Braise)

Women of a certain age develop very definite opinions about color, and the last thing you want is to get lassoed onto a paint committee with them. I'm an idiot savant when it comes to colors. I'm great at mixing and matching them, but I never get their names right, as women of a certain age love to tell me.

I got into it once with such a one when I said that octopus is purple. "No it's not; it's white." I stared at her dumbly, as though she had eight heads. I would concede if she were to insist that I mix up blue and green, but there's no way she'll convince me I mistake white for purple. So I reply, "Well, it's kind of greyish white before you cook it; and the inside is quite white after you cook it; but on the outside it's purple as purple can be." And she, "Well, we've served it to you before, and it was white." Oh, is that what those cyclinders were? I thought they were digits of palm or tofu. Turns out they were cored octopus, which I subsequently spotted in the freezer of the fish market next time I went. You Gentiles had me this time. I was speechless. Dumb with incredulity.

When I was in Brooklyn at Christmastime, I spotted a new fish shop across from the pastry shop, and reconnoitering came upon three crates of octopus of as many sizes. To mine eyes they were beautiful to behold. When I asked the fishmongress where they came from, she said "Portugal". That clinched it, as my father always said the best octopus is fresh from Portugal, so I decided to buy some to make for my mother and me that night. I was tempted by the baby ones, which we cook in spicy tomato sauce, but t'was the season for octopus salad, so I decided to decide between the middle and mega size. The reddish color of the big boy before me seized my sensorium, so I asked for him. When he weighed in at $24, I think I manged to keep custody of my facial features as I gulped out, "That's fine."

I ended up sending a pic of the big boy boiled to my friend of definite opinions, with the text, 
"Documentary proof that octopus is purple:"