MERA, Oleiros, A Coruna, Espana (JNS) _ There’s no such thing as a free lunch, you had to walk out onto into the cold water pull the octopus from between the rocks.
``That’s how he would do it,’’ my mother said remembering a meal provided by her cousin, Tono during her 1956 honeymoon.
``He would say `vo buscar o pulpo’ _ (I’m going to look for octopus) and he would pull it from between the rocks, bite it on the neck (to kill it) and bring it home,’’ Ma said.
``Tono, he’s Manolo’s brother,’’ Ma said.
``That’s short for Antonio, he’s tio Juan Antonio’s son, he was married to Felicidad, Abuela’s sister,’’ she continued, diverging into a family history.
``He was fixing up a house in Cabreira that was his wife’s mother’s house,’’ she said. ``Her name was Patela, that wasn’t her real name, but they gave everybody a name. It had something to do with the leg, that wasn’t a very nice name.’’
``Anyhow, she would say `Vai buscar o pulpo’ and he would and he’d go down and get the octopus and bite it and bring it home for lunch, well, not for lunch, but the afternoon meal.’’
``I don’t know now, I doubt if they have so much
with all the building that's going on.''
Boiling is the best way to cook it, although Abuela sometimes stewed it, sometimes put it into empanada. For boiling, about an hour is good, but the octopus has to be lowered into and pulled out of the pot three times before it’s put in for good. Nowadays, everyone says an octopus that has been frozen is more tender because the freezing and thawing helps break down the muscle fiber.
At festivals, a big copper pot over a wood fire is used. Once it’s done boiling (when a tooth pick comes out easily), it's cut with shears into pieces and served on wood plates dressed with olive oil, sea salt, paprika, hot pepper and raw garlic.
``They used to sing all those songs at the festivals. `Na veira do mar, ay moito que ver. Baile de punto de pie, baile se quieres bailar,’’’ Ma said.
Directly translated: ``On the edge of the sea, there is much to see. Dance on the point of your foot, dance if you want to dance.’’