It’s Alive!

Octopus: It’s what’s for dinner.

I’ve eaten a lot strange foods since moving to Korea, things like shrimp-flavored Cheetos, boiled squid, corn water, and dried silk worm larvae, just to name a few. While all of these things were disgusting, none of them can compare to my latest culinary adventure: live octopus. That’s right. Alive. As in still-wiggling-on-the-plate alive. When the waiter brought the dish to the table I thought someone slipped something into my drink as the whole plate was squirming and writhing like some sort of mesmerizing interpretive dance – a dance I interpreted as the octopus saying, “please don’t eat me.”

Too put it simply, eating octopus is an experience that sticks with you. The tentacles that aren’t crawling around stick steadfastly to the plate, holding on for dear life like a toddler not quite ready to leave a playground swing. It’s quite sad actually. For the octopus it must be the equivilent of getting evicted from your apartment and then getting eaten – something I’ve heard may actually happen in some parts of New York. The sliced and diced pieces are served covered with seasoning and herbs with a side of blistering wasabi sauce, which I think was there to help distract me from the fact that I was actually eating live octopus. White and wiggling, once you do manage to wrench the octopus away for the plate and pop it your mouth you get to feel its slimy texture slithering and sliding it’s way to your stomach. Not pleasant at all, but definitely more exctiting than eating Chicken McNuggets. My school’s director, the one who ordered the dish, told me to chew thoroughly, otherwise the octopus might try to make an abrupt u-turn in my throat. The actual taste is pretty bland, a little like chewing on a rubberband. I probably won’t be eating it again anytime soon. Even though I disliked the experience immensely and never craved for the simple conforts of a hamburger more in life, as far as freshness is concerned, live octopus can’t be beat.

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5 responses to “It’s Alive!

  1. Gefilte fish doesn’t look so bad now does it?

  2. Yes, that’s certainly fresh!

    One time in Singapore, (uh, that sounded like ‘one time at band camp’ – but anyways) we picked out this HUGE lobster from the live tanks and the chefs whacked off it’s tail and set him straight up on the plate. He was wiggling around and trying to figure out what was going on – his feelers (?) were going nuts….Then we proceeded to scoop out his RAW tail and ‘fondue’ it in boiling soup.

    It was good but creepy at the same time.

    Interesting traditions over there for sure.

  3. Actually, I’ve wanted to try Korean raw octopus since I heard about it years ago! Have yet to have the chance!

    Have you ever tried Japanese たこ焼き (Octopus dumplings)?

  4. Sorry. In the comment above, I meant to write:

    “I’ve wanted to try Korean live octopus…”

    I’ve had “raw” octopus many times here…but never still alive.

  5. Eating an animal alive, especially one as intelligent as the octopus, sounds disgusting and very cruel. No matter how tempting the novelty might be, I could never do it.

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