As a child, octopus was the first “weird food” we ate. It certainly didn’t fit in with our ordinary diet of plain buttered noodles and chicken nuggets, but then as now, we loved the assertive flavor and distinct texture of octopuses. Octopi (both pluralizations are correct!) can inhabit many diverse regions of the ocean, so it’s unsurprising that they are prepared in a variety of different ways. In fact, one could even go on an octopus tour of Boston. Hey, it beats the duck tours.
•Our octopus world tour starts in Europe with an Italian take on the cephalopod, which we’ll find in the North End at La Brace. The grilled baby octopus appetizer comes with a parsnip puree, gooseberries and grilled artichokes. Enjoy it with a glass of white wine.
•From Italy, we head to Spain, where octopus is a popular tapa. At Tapeo, our multi-armed friend comes cold, dressed in a vinaigrette. Pair it with its close cousin, the squid, which comes stuffed in its own ink.
•We’ll make two stops in Japan. The first is for octopus sashimi at Uni, which comes with hot oil in addition to soy and ginger.
•As great as the sashimi at Uni is (and it is great), our favorite Japanese octopus dish happens to be octopus pancakes. Get yours at Blue Fin where they’re practically bite-sized and, just like live octopuses, kind of adorable, if a little bizarre.
•We end in Cuba at Miami Cafe. Order an octopus salad to start and follow it up with an octopus sub and rice with octopus. Hum “Octupus’s Garden” to yourself. Feel very happy.