My Babies, My Baby Octopus

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Over four years ago, when I first introduced my daughter Violet (at left, with baby octopus) to baby octopus when she was less than two years old at one of Los Angeles’ best Italian restaurants (that would be Angelini Osteria), I marveled at her unbiased, pre-verbal, unbridled love of the stuff. Back then, I wondered whether she’d weather the intervening years of science lessons, aquatic board books, and all the other things that could creep a kid out about putting such an odd looking creature into your mouth. Fast forward to today and I’m proud to say she still loves it, despite now knowing it’s an animal and a superbly bizarre-looking one at that. What did I do to make her think it was quite normal to eat octopus? I did what most of the cultures of the Mediterranean do: I acted like it was quite normal to eat octopus, because that happens to be the case in most of the coastal food cultures of the globe, from Italy, to Greece, to Australia, throughout Asia and so on and so on. As with soccer (aka football the rest of world round), we’re the odd men out here in the states, and shouldn’t lose sight of that when cooking for our families. Expose them to the foods of the world, and you expose them to the world at large. A handy and tasty lesson most of the time. In one of those wonderful L.A. as melting pot moments, in search of Mediterranean bliss, I bought a bunch of octopus at a Korean market not far from my house.
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After removing the heads and marinating the tentacles in olive oil, garlic, parsley, and lemon juice, I cooked them quickly on the grill, which was going at full bore. I drizzled a bit more olive oil and lemon juice over them, a bit of fresh parsley, and a bit of fleur de sel, and these little leviathans made a lovely summer treat.
—Hugh

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3 Responses to My Babies, My Baby Octopus

  1. j3n says:

    My son has been eating maguro sashimi and tobiko since he was about a year old and one of our fail-safe foods for him is calamari. I constantly get people who ask how we got him to eat certain foods or call him the “gourmet kid,” and much like you we don’t think of it along those lines. I simply try to feed him what we enjoy eating, and with all things sometimes it works, other times – not so much.
    This week’s surprise favorite was Chimichurri Rice with Ground Turkey.

  2. mary says:

    Yea for octopus and letting the kids eat it. My girls love salmon (pink chicken) and calamari. Thier latest love is seaweed, cut into squares and filled with rice. Thanks for the great food blog, i love checking in.

  3. David says:

    Belated comment — just found your site –
    Last week at the beach we needed to feed our not-quite-four-year-old daughter before 5 pm and wanted something decent to feed her. We wound up at a Thai restarant, as scary as is the idea of Thai food in a beach town, and ordered spicy squid with vegetables. The squid was cut into My daughter pronounced the squid “the best food ever!!!”

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