When I was 9 years old, my dad got a fellowship to study at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, so we left Miami and spent the summer up in Cape Cod. The quaint, sleepy town of Woods Hole was the perfect place for my brother and I to have what at the time felt like pure, unbridled freedom. We roamed as a pack by bicycles with other kids, scouring the rubbish bins for cans that with the 5-cent deposit we could trade directly with shopkeepers for pieces of Bazooka Joe bubblegum. We lived in a small wooden beach cabin with an open sleeping loft, and it seemed as though every time I walked in the door from the beach, my mom was in the kitchen cooking and Oliver North was testifying before Congress about the Iran-Contra affair on TV.
There are a few words, that for some reason, I remember when and where I first heard them. I was nine, in Woods Hole, when I first heard the word 'recollect', as Oliver North seemingly answered every question on the stand with 'I don't recollect'.
My parents signed me and my brother up for some science and ocean-related day camps. I caught a flounder using a piece of hot dog as bait, and we also caught, dissected and ate fresh squid. I thought it was pretty much the coolest thing ever to use the squid's spine to puncture the ink sac and write something, and then cook up the squid right there in our classroom and eat it for a snack. Right there in that day camp classroom sealed in me not only for a love and respect of the ocean, but a love of calamari as well.
Fast forward twenty-four years and I walked through the market last weekend, my eyes resting on a box of frozen squid steaks. I'm not sure if these are sold at Whole Foods back home or not, but I can't imagine they'd be only $11 for a box of 8 thick, hearty pieces of squid that were perfect for squid steak sandwiches. And because I would in theory like to prevent a child of mine (not going to mention any names but it may or may not rhyme with 'Schmalex') one day sitting on a therapist's couch discussing how his mother giving him strange food has contributed to his inability to lead a productive life, I did give everyone a choice between a normal hamburger and the squid steaks.
To my surprise, everyone was game for the squid steak.
I prepped a simple coating for the squid with some flour, grated parmesan cheese and black pepper. In a second bowl, I mixed an egg with a couple of tablespoons of water. After cutting the steaks into sizes that would fit the bread I planned on using, I dipped each piece into both bowls and pan-fried them for a couple of minutes on each side in olive oil.
I squeezed a little lemon over the top, nestled it in with some lettuce and sliced roma tomatoes inside a warmed bun, and paired it with a green salad.
Sam: He said he loved every bit of it, thought it was fantastic and he'd eat it again.
Me: I would definitely eat it again, although I'd tweak the recipe a bit to add more flavor.
Jackson: He ate his as well as the few extra pieces that remained, along with two massive helpings of salad and then wanted the leftover bun and also ate the cucumber, broccoli, and lettuce nubbins left on the cutting board. Mental note: start a savings account and a garden plot now in preparation for this kid's adolescence, because the grocery bills will increase to ludicrous heights.
Kenyon: A quote: "I didn't like the squid, but liked the rest." Even though this kid has thinned out some as he has moved into his fourth year, he still has a Homer Simpson-esque appreciation for food. Last weekend, one of us mentioned something about pasting something, and Kenyon leaned back and closed his eyes, murmuring, "Mmmmmmmmm. Pastries."
Alex: A quote: "Mom, you know the patty thing? It wasn't too bad!"
Massive win! I was feeling pretty darn proud of myself, and was just patting myself on the back and mentally chalking one up for Mom in the Avoiding Therapy Department...and then I accidentally poked poor Alex in the eye when I went to kiss him goodnight. Sigh. Fail.