Friday, July 24, 2009

We Who Are About To Die ...

Only the brave ...

So, a few days ago, a friend of mine gave me a gift.
It was wrapped in clear wrap, nestled in one of those little foam trays that wrapped things from the fresh grocer come in.
It was a black mound of ... something.
I stared at it.
There was a label on it, but without my over 50 reading specs on, I couldn't quite make out the writing on the label.
"It's squid ink pasta," she said as she watched my face for a reaction.
"Oh" (See, I'm really good at witty conversation.)
"It's squid ink pasta from an amazing Italian grocery and you HAVE to post about it and let us know how it was."
Oh, no. I guide students through squid dissections each year. I know squid intimately inside and out ... it's not pretty in there ... and the ink sac ... it's full of dark crumbly goo.
And what was it one of those food guys said ... something about cooking in bitter pungent squid ink. Didn't I wrinkle my nose in disgust at that episode ... was it Zimmern or Bordain ... not sure, but EATING SQUID INK?
And now, I had been gifted ... and challenged to share the results!
I thanked my new/old friend, we've known each other for a long time, but we had just met.
Lucky for me, my old college roommate Dave was in for the weekend and Dave will eat anything. He just spent a year in China eating scorpions and such, so I knew he'd have a good plan for this molluscan macaroni.
And I was right.
I showed Dave the black lump and he came up with a plan ... Shrimp and Squid Ink Pasta in a Genovese Pesto Sauce.
We hit the grocery store for some ingredients and liquid courage and got to cookin'.
Eventually, it was done and the moment of truth had arrived. The dish was plated, the diners were forked, and all that was left was to dig in.
I was really expecting a strong fishy taste, but I WAS WRONG ... WONDERFULLY ... GLORIOUSLY WRONG!
It was great! It tasted like normal very fresh pasta with the only clue to a Cephalopodic origin being the inky black color.
I even had seconds.


Paintsmh said...

I will take the shrimp...You can have the rest! Some things I dont think I want to try. Though I am very glad you enjoyed it!

Cathy S. said...

I saw it still in the wrapper and while it looks better with shrimp on top, I'm still not up for it. Icky.

Caroline said...

Love Zimmern and Bourdain, we use parts of their programs when we study cultural geography of the Eastern Hemisphere in 9th grade Geography class.
You are adventuresome after watching them. If those are fresh Gulf shrimp, I'd be tempted to try it too. :o)

Ericka said...

i'm glad you enjoyed it. for myself, ugh. i don't eat things that live in water.

Robert V. Sobczak said...

The proof is always in the pudding ... or in this case, ink.

Thunder Dave said...

Told Ya, Bourdain and Zimmern got nothin' on me! ;-)

S N B said...

It is just really hard not to make assumptions, isn't it? I think that is true especially when culturally different food is involved. Good for you! And who knows, it may just BE good for you!

Pablo said...

Fine, I'm willing to try new foods (though shellfish and my digestive system don't get along). But if the squid-ink pasta tastes just like regular pasta, what's the point? Does the ink add anything other than novelty?

Miz S said...

Brave man. The black ink skeeves me out a little bit. Then again, I eat that yellow stuff inside blue crabs, so I probably shouldn't cast aspersions at squid ink.

amarkonmywall said...

You're brave man. I'm not sure I'd try anything that color in the food department. Some gift. Whoever gave that to you must have seen it and thought: Who in the world would be willing to deal with pasta of such origins? Oh, I know! (Tee-hee)

A marine biologist developed a race of genetically engineered dolphins that could live forever if they were fed a steady diet of seagulls. One day, his supply of the birds ran out so he had to go out
and trap some more. On the way back, he spied two lions asleep on the road. Afraid to wake them, he gingerly stepped over them. Immediately, he was arrested and charged with: transporting gulls across sedate lions for immortal porpoises.

lisa said...

I love squid, but that part, I DON'T KNOW!! I will try just about anything once (when it comes to food)!

Aunty Belle said...

that boy-chile in the banner looks familiar--an' he's cute.

Anonymous said...

FC-Your old roomate is something else isn't he? Hope his trip there has been successful and he comes home soon. The food looked delicious but then I learned to quit doubting his cullinary abilities years ago!

TROLL Y2K said...

Your Minorcan ancestors probably ate a good deal of squid ink. Paella Negro, etc...

Rurality said...

Hmm, I wonder how squid ink would do in soap... :)

You know not to buy the Chinese pine nuts for your sauce, right?

Amy said...

Ooo where did the pasta come from? and was it just dried pasta colored with squid ink?

In Spain, the family I stayed with made the most delicious meal ever and it's been so long that I can't remember if it was pasta or rice but the sauce was made using squid ink and it was so tasty!

Also I've picked up imported bags of dried multi-colored pasta from TJ Maxx (discount gourmet!) and on the ingredients list you can see the coloring comes from natural sources such as carrots (orange), beets (red) squid ink (black/purple), etc. The pasta didn't taste any different but it was fun to eat b/c of the coloring.

Floridacracker said...

It's hard to go wrong with shrimp!

Cathy S,
Ha! You're probably next on her weird food gift list! LOL
Got the stand today! :)

It took me awhile to warm up to Bordain and his smartarse NY City attitude, but I enjoy him now. Great idea to use bits of that in class!

Wow, you just ruled out a bunch of good eatin!

And I have proof that I actually tried it and liked it!

You are sick dude. :)

I tend to be pretty traditional about my ingredients ... not about recipes, but about what goes in them.

I think the entire point is coloration and novelty.

Miz S,
GAK! crab fat. blechh. I'm sticking with inky pasta.

Obviously the gifter was an unpredictable jokester! LOL! Thanks and thanks for the cheese which went in this dish too!
Love that joke ... won't be able to remember it, but love it.

I don't love squid so I was really prepared NOT to like this stuff!

He IS a handsome dog ain't he?

He's out of his mind but he cooks good.

Yeah, but they're dead now aren't they? Hmmmmmmm ...

We actually skipped the pine nuts in our modified version of this sauce.
I do not know what I'm supposed to know about Chinese pine nuts.

I bet almost any meal eaten in Spain would be memorable! I think you are right about the pasta. Ink seems to just be a coloration ingredient.
Which suits me just fine!

Ericka said...

@amarkonmywall: i'd be very interested in hearing where you heard that joke - a dear friend of my father's came up with it and a bunch of others. they lost touch when he left goodyear, and it'd be beyond awesome if i could find him again for my dad.

JG said...

Looking at my garden this morning I realized it was about time i did something with all my lovely basil...thanks for the push!