I’d always heard that you must tenderize octopus before it can be eaten, but I had no idea what that involved until I visited Mykonos, Greece during a tour with Collette. I was enjoying a leisurely lunch at a seaside cafe during one of our free afternoons, when a local man squatted down on the rocks directly in front of me. He raised his right arm high and brought it down forcefully, slamming whatever he held in his hand against the rocks. It took me a moment to realize the “something” he held in his hand was a freshly-caught octopus. Again and again, he bashed the creature onto the boulder. Fascinated, I watched as the rubbery consistency of the octopus gradually melted into a soft, quivering mass.
Curious, I asked the owner of the restaurant if the octopus would be appearing on his dinner menu that evening. “No, that’s a local man who is preparing his own dinner.” He claimed that to tenderize octopus, a cook must beat it against the rocks (or the kitchen sink) at least 100 times. I didn’t count, but I’d be willing to bet the man beat that octopus against the rocks at least 50 times. It seemed like an awful lot of effort to go through for something that’s famous for its rubbery consistency, regardless of how it’s prepared. But I was fascinated and excited to witness a process that’s an authentic part of the cultural heritage of the Greek Islands.
Author’s note: I was a guest of Collette during my “Exploring Greece and Its Islands, featuring Classical Greece, Mykonos & Santorini” tour. However, the receipt and acceptance of complimentary items or services will never influence the content, topics, or posts in this blog. I write the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.