By Allan Gillis
It is Friday. I had wanted to do this last year and the year before… just kept getting out of my grasp. Meatless Fridays. I resolved for this New Year to keep the First Fridays holy and to observe at least an abstinence on Fridays – the day of the week on which my Lord died on the cross for me.
I’ve heard that even McDonald’s developed their Filet-O-Fish Sandwich back in the early sixties originally to appeal to customers in a predominantly Catholic neighborhood in Cincinnati by one of their franchise-owners who wanted to still be able to capture business on Fridays – despite the religious adherence to observing the fast by the Catholic clientele. This was back in 1962. UUUHH-HUMMM!, need I point out that this was before Vatican II? Nahh…shouldn’t say that! Pope Francis will call me ossified, obstinate and idolatrous.
Anyway, I often find myself caught – especially at lunchtime with the tantalizing notion of something sizzling, blood-red, juicey and protein-packed. I could NEVER be a vegan or a vegetarian! I LOVE MEAT! I get hungry walking through a barn-yard! (I’m NOT kidding!). Lettuce and baby-greens? nahhh no thanks – that is food food. Get it?
So, depriving myself for one day a week is spiritually a good thing. BUT. I do so love seafood! I’m half Italian and half Scottish. My people on both sides historically subsisted mainly on “frutti di mare” – fruits of the sea. Baccala, calamari, shrimp scampi with my Mom’s family… and they often refer to my father’s ilk as “Herrin-chokers”… a lot of fish – believe me! – whether it was from the all-surrounding waters of Scotland or New Scotland (Nova Scotia). [interesting Latin connection there – cuz, the Scots that escaped to this place where Roman Catholics chased from the still-Catholic/Gaelic-speaking northwest highlands and the Hebrides of Scotland] I love fish so much – I mean REAL fish…like mackerel, fresh sardines, smelts and herring. Leave the buttered sole for the wimps – well, maybe I’ll take a taste o’ that after all – thank you…
Octopus! – fresh from Spain! jetted in last night …was in the Alboran Sea on Tuesday! Oh Baby! Rinse and clean the tentacles well… then..heat about 1 1/2′ – 2″ of olive oil in a pan – well before it smokes… put in the octopus – or “Polpo” in Italian…cook ’til the oil becomes red with the “ink” – then turn him over…cook the other side and cover to simmer for 20 minutes or so
Insalata di Polpo! cut the tentacles off – I discard the head or “tube”. Slice the tentacles into bite-size pieces and add to your salad. Here I had some baby-greens, black olives, sliced red peppers and sliced cherry-tomatoes. Virgin olive oil and regular red wine vinegar. Add salt and pepper and a bit of herbs-de Provence!
I added this to my repast… steamed some fresh Maine clams… some Sauvignon Blanc and a half-loaf of my own home-baked whole-grain Spelt bread!
Maybe not such an abstinence after all?