Thursday, January 28, 2010

Octopus Vivisection

I've been aware for a while now how smart octopus are and even though I think they are delicious, I have stopped eating them.

So the other day I got this email from Tasting Table:

Wed. 27 Jan '10

Night of the Living Sushi
Straight-from-the-tank fish at Sushi Uo

Tasting Table

Photo: Julie Qiu

At 23 years old, chef David Bouhadana may seem too young to be an ambassador for traditional Japanese sushi.

But don't let his youthfulness fool you: At Sushi Uo--a hidden LES den that he opened last fall--Bouhadana has embraced a nearly abandoned technique with artistic flair: serving live sashimi.

The show happens every Tuesday night, when Bouhadana replicates ikizukuri ("prepared alive"), a ceremonious procedure in which a fish is stunned, sliced and served with its heart still beating.

Bouhadana begins the process by making graceful slits along the fish's flesh before picking it up and slamming it down on the cutting board, where it curls and seizes, rendering it firm to the bite--in some cases, almost crunchy.

Hands this capable deserve your trust: Take his recommendation of the silky abalone, snappy penn shell and lightly sweet surf clam, all arriving artfully arranged on a platter ($25 to $35, depending on market price). And don't be alarmed by the octopus tentacle twitching on your plate: It's just one of its three hearts still beating--which is to say, it's alive and kicking.

I can't read that last line "don't be alarmed by the octopus tentacle twitching" without thinking: here is an creature with advanced intelligence how is this OK? If we were to switch out the word octopus and replace it with 3 year old child or beloved smart family dog Fido how would we feel then? And how, I ask in all seriousness is it different? Octopus have a nervous system and consciousness just like your 3 year old and your family pet.

I'm often struck by how grossed out people are when I tell them I've visited Vietnam, one of the first questions I am inevitably asked is: "did you eat dog?" like the minute you get off the plane you immediate go all native and start have unnatural urges, obviously in our culture the eating of Fido is very disturbing, but why? Well, as far as I can tell it's because dogs are cute and we have a relationship to them, octopus are ugly (to us) and we have no relationship to them other then on our plate, so it's OK to torture and eat them? And yeah I guess what this email describes to me is torture (specifically about the octopus - fish and abalone are a different story).

Sure I eat meat on occasion but I trust given my very fussy standards about what meat I eat that the animal it came from had a good life and was humanely slaughtered. And chickens are dumb.

Somehow I don't want to lose my humanity so I can say to my friends:

"Oh you'll never believe how fresh the sushi is at this place!"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I saw that Tasting Table post too, I almost couldn't read the whole thing, my stomach was turning!

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