Think of these tentacled cephalopods as clams and oysters, their relatives, but without the shells. They are odd looking, lending themselves to silliness, like the old Beatles tune, Octopus’s Garden. And to being logos, such as the Octopus card you use to ride the Hong Kong Metro system.
There are strange octopus rituals practiced in some cuisines, which may be the key to a certain texture, or just wastes of time, or even myths. Have you ever heard of people putting their octopus in the driveway and driving the car back and forth to tenderize it (attributed to the Greeks)?
Watch the wonderful film, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, and see how a master massages the octopus to get the perfect texture.http://www.magpictures.com/jirodreamsofsushi/
One popular way to enjoy octopus is to simply grill the tentacles with a little olive oil and lemon juice seasoning, the Mediterranean approach, showing up more and more frequently on menus. The squeamish can ask the fish monger to clean/trim the beast, so as to avoid that chore at home.
Deep fried octopus with hot peppers, such as the Chinese do with shrimp, is fabulous, too. Like squid, its close relative, octopus also makes a tasty pasta sauce.
Another delicious approach is eating the baby octopuses (actually a smaller species) whole, whether in Asian cuisines or grilled or fried as in Barcelona’s ubiquitous tapas bars.
For the truly intrepid, travel to Playa del Carmen, Mexico, for a whole grilled full sized octopus at El Diaz, myMEGusta’s favorite for Argentinean beef.
Not recommended is this faux octopus, presumably a trick to get one’s finicky three-year old to eat a hot dog and pasta, but just scary!