The first time I ever had fresh octopus was in Miyama, Japan. I was visiting my sister, who was teaching a 1st & 2nd grade class. The class was their equivalent of home economics where you learn how to cook. That’s right, 1st and 2nd graders learning how to cook. They not only cooked, but they also served and cleaned up their lunches every day in the cafeteria. They don’t play over there when it comes to raising kids. Anyway, in Japan they are much less concerned with civil rights than we are here. They don’t have time for people suing each other left and right because somebody got their feelings hurt. Basically the impression I got was you are responsible for your own well being, and it isn’t somebody else’s fault if you are too stupid to keep yourself safe. I imagine they also like the idea of letting the dumb thin themselves out at a young age.
It was in this atmosphere that my sister was teaching them to make Takoyaki or baked octopus balls. To be clear, that’s bits of octopus tentacle baked into the center of a ball of quiche-like batter, not what you were just thinking. And because it’s Japan, only fresh octopus will do, which means those slippery tentacles had to be cut up right there with 12″ long knives and cooked on portable gas-powered stoves by 1st and 2nd graders. It was like being in a Chucky movie, only nobody got stabbed and we were laughing a lot. After they finished, the kids proudly served us gaijin their meals on little plates, but not before they covered them in mayonnaise. The Japanese love some mayonnaise. They love mayonnaise more than fat people love to not walk up (or down) escalators.
Its not just the Japanese though. What I didn’t realize at the time was I was witnessing part of a larger movement that for now I’m going to call the international mayonnaise plot. Across the globe people are going to push this nasty combination of egg whites and vinegar on you any way they can. Here in America you’ll find it disguised as Green Goddess dressing, Aioli drizzle, Hollandaise sauce, Tartar sauce, and whatever that gelatinous off-white stuff is they give you on the side at burger joints. Be wary of their treachery and avoid the greasy non-food whenever possible. If you don’t think eating mayo is such a big deal, remember this: when it’s cooked, it turns clear. Putting that in your body is like saying, “Can I have some black magic with my fishsticks, please?”
Fresh Octopus (Tako Butsu) is the only way to go. Enjoy it in good health.
Co-founder of Danger Press in 2004, J’s background is in corporate identity design, photography, calligraphy, illustration and marketing. He enjoys solving problems, negative space, brevity, black cats, and the color gray.