At what point to you stare at your food and start trying to find ways to be polite, graceful, and complimentary while plotting how to dispose of the dish in some way besides eating it?
I pride myself on being able and willing to at least try everything set before me. I might not eat much of it, and I may never, ever order the dish for myself, but I’ll try it. So, when Dad Red returned from a grocery run with the usual econ packs of chicken and pork I happily loaded the freezer. The four pound sack of mixed seafood gave me pause, not the least because there was no more room in the freezer period end. None. Zip. I’d already stashed a pork loin in the veggie crisper. But after some creative stacking and excavating I managed to wedge The Sack into the freezer, where it lurked for a few weeks. And then Dad decided to use about half the contents.
I had not looked at the label on The Sack. If I had, I might have staged a preemptive strike and removed at least one of the varieties of seafood. Faux-crab? No problem. White fish? Sure. Clams? Yes, please. Oysters? Why not? Squid? Certainly as long as you cook it long enough. Whole baby octopus?
OK, right now I hear Old NFO, other Asia hands, and anyone who has spent much time in Greece chuckling, because this is the least of the “interesting” seafood people eat and enjoy around the world. Sorry, gents and ladies, but I draw the line at intact baby octopodes.
I was not consulted, other than to dig out a few cookbooks that might have a mixed seafood stew in them. Dad and Mom Red found something workable and began collecting ingredients and thawing half of The Sack. I hinted a few times that “longer is better” because of said squid, and stayed out of the way.
The broth tasted good, the faux-crab et al were pretty good, but the baby octopi filling my spoon gave me pause. They were purple, and seemed to be looking at me. I’ve passed the age where making a scene at the table is permitted, so I gulped and ate. It wasn’t too bad. The squid was a bit chewy, though. (Rule of thumb for squid – less than 30 seconds or more than 30 minutes. Cook between those times and you get rubber squid.) The stew was better the second day, as is usual with stews.
I thought I’d escaped the octopuses, but no. Just before leaving town Dad decided to clear out part of the freezer and the entire rest of The Sack went into paella. In addition to baby octopodes looking back at me, I’ve got squid-flavored chewing gum.
I love my parents, but I hope The Sack 2.0 does not grace their shopping cart ever.