A cold rain falls in early May in Homer, Alaska. We were enjoying all the stunning ocean scenery and the educational workshops at the Shorebird Festival, but we were beginning to get a bit cold and damp after four days of camping amidst the rain and snow down on the Homer Spit.
On the fifth day, one of Katie’s friends offered up her backyard “survival pod” for us to crash in until we left for work. The pod was in fact a well insulated sauna with a loft for sleeping, so when faced with the opportunity of a roof and a wood fired stove, we jumped on it. (We did have to make our way past the guard geese, however!) We made plans to meet up that evening and she told us to bring a side dish to go along with octopus.
A fisherman friend of hers had dropped off the freshly caught cephalopod that morning with directions to simply drop it in a pot of boiling water for twenty minutes. With such a banal preparation, my hopes for rich flavor and amenable texture were fairly low, but twenty minutes later, we pulled from the depths of the stew pot one of the more delicious mounds of seafood that we’ve ever tasted.
That first night we dined on boiled octopus dipped in a variety of sauces, although the extra flavors were hardly necessary. It was firm, not quite like scallops in texture, but close. And the flavor was definitely reminiscent of crab, subtle and sweet. Katie did get scared of the suction cups and pushed them aside, but the braver among us downed them whole.
After the four of us gorged to our heart’s content, we still found ourselves with an overflowing pile o’ octopus. So the next night, we had pasta octopinni, and we filled our bellies again with that sweet cephalopodian delight. Yet we still had a gallon ziplock full on day three, and of course the joke of the day was: “aw man, octopus agaaaiin!” The third night we went out for Thai.
It was a strange situation in that we would never kill or seek out octopus to eat; they are a creature like bear or lion that are best left unhunted. But it was presented as a gift to our hosts, and our hosts presented it to us, so we feasted on the flesh of the wise old creature. We can only hope that the octopus gods may forgive us.