There are many different foods I’ve eaten since I was a kid. There are also various foods I’ve tried in my life. However, the most exotic food I’ve ever had was octopus.
It was when some relatives on my mother’s side first immigrated to the United States. I was 4 ½ years old. My aunt is a terrific cook, mind you, and I’ve loved most everything she’d ever prepared. However, one food not appealing to me was octopus. No matter how good of a cook anyone is, there’s just no way to get rid of the nasty taste of the octopus itself. It also had a peculiar smell regardless of if it was raw or cooked.
To me, the octopus was bitter, with an unusual taste so unappealing to me, being a child of 4 ½ years old. Up until the time, I had never heard of anyone eating octopus before.
I never knew it was considered food. It made my skin crawl, because the notion of eating octopus had been so foreign to me.
As an adult, I have not eaten octopus. I don’t believe I’ll ever try it again, because it makes me kind of squeamish.
Another exotic food I’ve tried in my life was squid. My father made it for two siblings, my mother and me. He never cleaned it. He served with whole with the eyes and tentacles still intact. It reminded me of a dead beetle. My parents made my siblings and me eat it. I attempted to take one bite of it. Upon putting it in my mouth, I spit it out and had to run to the bathroom, because I threw up. It was the most disgusting thing I’d ever seen, let alone the most disgusting thing I’d ever tasted.
Years later, I went with my aunt and my grandmother to one of our local restaurants where calamari was one of their biggest specialties. I had never heard of it. It was beautifully prepared, and smelled appetizing. I tried a piece out of curiosity, and said, “This is good. What is it?”
“It’s squid,” my aunt replied.
“No, this can’t be squid. Believe me when I say I know squid. And this isn’t it. This is to appetizing to be squid. I’ve had squid when I was in high school. That father of mine prepared it, and it was the grossest thing I’ve ever had to look at in my life, let alone eat. It also freaked me out with its little eyes looking back at me. Not only that but it was served with the tentacles and everything still intact. No, this isn’t squid. It can’t be,” I insisted while continuing to eat the delicious delicacy that lay before me on my plate.
“Kiki, I’m telling you the truth. This is squid. Your father never cleaned it. The tentacles, eyes and the inside is supposed to be removed. The only thing you eat is the meat, such as that which is before you. When squid is prepared correctly, it actually tastes good and is appealing,” my aunt informed me.
I was amazed at the difference between the way the folks at the restaurant prepared it, and the way that father of mine prepared it. I ate it to my hearts content, because I so enjoyed it for the first time ever in my life.
© Copyright, Kiki Stamatiou, 2015