Dish 91: Octopus at LaCroix, 210 West Rittenhouse Square, http://www.lacroixrestaurant.com
Octopus is an upsettingly tasty food that I can barely bring myself to eat. Most other types of meat barely resemble the animal from which they came, which makes it easier to compartmentalize. Think of sliced deli ham. It does not oink or snort, or snuffle in any cute fashion. Or a hanger steak, does not moo, nor is it furry. But octopus, is simply octopus, skin and suckers and all. It seems so barbaric to me, straight out of Arabian Nights, to cut off another’s limbs and eat them for dinner. Or lunch. At LaCroix. I just picture a man with a machete, heartlessly hacking at a sea creature made defenseless by its removal from the ocean. Octopi can hold their own in the water; some even have venom with the same toxin as the fugu fish. But on land, what can it do? Would you ever kick a man if he was down? We don’t need meat to live. So why kill?
I apologize. Certain foods get to me. I’m not against eating meat; I am against me eating meat. The given of my argument is that evolution exists. Suppose that certain animals have the right to eat meat—carnivores. Omnivores. I argue that if one animal needs meat to survive and thrive, and can overpower another animal in combat, that one predator has the right to eat the meat, and perhaps his immediate beneficiaries—cubs, girlfriends, baby daddies, etc. Depending on whim, I occasionally expand this combat to include simple tools like a bow and arrow, a rock, basic traps and nets, but never guns. Unless you plan on giving a deer a gun, you shouldn’t be shooting at it. Back to the point. I cannot kill an animal. Not only would I be completely incapable of trapping a squirrel or a bunny or something, I could not end its life. So, therefore, I do not deserve to eat meat. I cannot earn it. I do it for the blog—but I think Mr. Jeffers might soon find himself with a new eight-armed assignment.
On the topic of tasty but unsettling foods, the octopus from LaCroix was incredible. The menu claims to serve it with coconut and lime (coconut and lime? That sounds like the exquisite coconut and kaffir lime chocolates from Antoine Amrani. Haven’t tried them yet? Get moving!!), except when it arrives, there are no coconuts or visible limes! The smoky octopus is served with tiny gelee cubes of a blandish sweet lean, and sprinkled with what appears to be parmesan. In fact, the “parmesan” is a sticky white powder, like confectionary sugar, but its salty and sesame-y. Strange but interesting. And given the perfectly orchestrated and executed service, I can’t wait for my next visit. When I will order something a little more mainstream.
Antoine Amrani: http://www.antoineamrani.com