I am conflicted about eating octopus. There is no denying that their tentacles are delicious, especially when they’re soft and yielding on the inside with a crust (preferably charred just a little) on the outside. Yummy.
But an octopus has 33,000 protein-coding genes,compared with fewer than 25,000 in humans. Meanwhile they have remote brains, their tentacles can act and taste independently of each other. Once, I watched a sheep tethered to a tree, walk around in circles until it was on its knees, choking with not a clue as to how it had gotten into that predicament and I thought – “well clearly you are food.” But a shape shifting octopus. Conflict.
Which is what I tell my friend when we meet at Bar Bodega Quimet where I “have to try the octopus.”
“I think they are aliens. I know it doesn’t make any sense – it’s like admitting to a fear of something innocuous like pencils.”
He rolls his eyes and orders the octopus (14€)
“So this place” he continues “was taken over by this young couple. They’ve kept the interior the same and they serve conservas and have modernised some of the fare.”
Canned fish may be an anathema in most places but here in Spain, they are celebrated and in some cases, more expensive than the fresh fish. Culinary Back Streets says it best – “the tradition of conservas more resembles that of keeping one’s most beautiful jewelry locked safe in a strongbox, to be brought out only on special occasions like Christmas, birthdays…”
We have canned razor clams with olives and pickles and stuffed canned squid with grilled eggplant and courgette. The selection is vast. The people next to us have a plate of fuet and bread sticks followed by one of large chunks of tomato with sweet onion and lots of olive oil. I could easily eat that too.
The idea is that you order a bit, get a drink and if the conversation is good, go back in for seconds or thirds of dinky plates of salty moreish bites.
Bar Bodega Quimet
Carrer de Vic 23