I’ve set a one-word phone reminder, timed for 13 days hence: ‘Octopus’.
After many saucer-eyed entreaties, I’ve capitulated and bought Ted an eight-legged/armed betentacled (dead) sea creature for a princely sum (see pic).
Rick Stein says freeze octopus for a fortnight, or bash the shit out of it on a rock, before cooking – otherwise it’s like trying to masticate a flip flop. It’s only a diddy thing, but it is a full octopus. The idea of prepping and cooking it is already haunting the recesses of my mind – I’m highly suggestible, so I’ll probably be having full-blown, octopus-based nightmares as the cooking day approaches.
A wet-behind-the-ears lad bagged it up for us down Morrisons way – why have they got rid of their apostrophe? He looked somewhat horrified on witnessing the lip-smacking delight on my son’s face. I explained that, standing before him, was a child who’d already eaten whole squid, cuttlefish, swordfish, mussels, clams, prawns and a variety of filleted fish in restaurants on holiday. The ‘fishmonger’ winced with disgust – possibly not a face to pose up during the next anthemic Morrisons TV campaign.
But the octopus’ delights are to be relished in the future. Today, Ted selected a whole plaice fillet (I nearly puked when it was bagged up and I realised the spotted grey skin was still firmly attached to the underside).
“The fish is looking good today, isn’t it, Mummy?” Ted observed with glee. “Mmmm,” I weakly agreed. Our fish counter operative smiled sympathetically.
Later, in the animal cadavers section, Ted chanted: “Meat, meat, meat!” I wondered whether I am taking the right motherly direction with my young charge. “If I had a shop, I would sell only meat and fish and I would eat it all and give the bones to my cat,” Ted said. I remained silent (but mildly horrified – am I raising a cave troll?).
Back home, I conducted my customary nasal inspection of said plaice. I sniff meat, fish and eggs like Gollum hunting for snacks in the Dead Marshes – I am compelled to check the produce isn’t off, even though getting so up close and personal with something once alive gives me the heebie jeebies.
I pan-fried the plaice in butter. For the first time in my so-far brief fish-frying career, I did not burn it. I served it up with plain noodles and boiled broccoli (none of your flavoursome sauces, oils, herbs or spices for Ted, thanks very much).
He devoured it, announcing: “This plaice is absolutely delicious!” Job done, mother – I thought. Job done.