I have Catholicism in my background – I can whip up guilt at the drop of a rosary bead – but I don’t feel too bad about eating octopi. They do taste good but I’ve always had trouble cooking them – it’s not so much a question of the raw and the cooked, more the raw and the rubbery.
Anyway, I suppose I had always assumed that octopi lead essentially blameless lives, and I never had them down as public fornicators, but I was wrong about that it seems. For the last ten years the Seattle Aquarium has had an annual octopus breeding day – male and female octopi go at it for the delight of a paying public. It’s educational, for the kids, right?
This year however, the event was cancelled because the male octopus – named Kong, was too big. Kong was, and I suppose still is, a 70 pound giant Pacific octopus who would apparently require a mate of at least sixty pounds – and they couldn’t find one that size. Any smaller than that and there was every chance that Kong would regard the potential mate as food, and eat her – whether before or after breeding, I’m not sure, and either way it puts the lie to the quiet, blameless business: Kong was definitely a cannibal and possibly also a necrophiliac. I’ll bet that’s not as fun a date as it sounds, and it does make me feel a bit better about eating them.
I can definitely see the physical beauty and sensuality in the form of the octopus, and we do know that the Japanese have a whole category of what we might call cephalopod erotica – I’m not sure they make a hard and fast distinction between squid and octopus.
And as it happens, I’ve been enjoying some pretty fabulous Shirakiku Brand Japanese shredded smoked squid this week. As it says on the pack “We have selected the most essential parts of squids as raw materials to process this delicious Shredded Squid which is sure to be your special favorite.” No artificial colors, no artificial flavors – just smoked squid, sugar, salt, vinegar, monosodium glutamate, chilli pepper and sorbic acid. Hell yes! Did somebody say umami? And it’s so chewy!!
There’s also, I don’t think you can deny, something definitely phallic about the squid on the pack. Is that what it’s really all about?