Monday, January 23, 2012

There are better ways to eat squid

why didn't the boys want to come see Pina with us?
Isabel and I came home from seeing a movie yesterday afternoon and found the house occupied by people watching football, drinking beer, and snarfing up tortilla chips.  Children were eating pretzel sticks and tracking crumbs around like Hansel and Gretel and it was all generally kind of messy and after I said hello and disapprovingly plucked a few wet leaves someone had tracked onto the impractical pink rug, went into the kitchen, made myself a cup of herbal tea, and started cleaning squid for dinner. Diets can be so isolating. Dieting can make me into such a priss.
in fact, not tempting at all
My sister came in to the kitchen and I saw a fork in the road. I could continue drinking tea and feeling aloof, or I could take the other road. The low road. Or was it the high road? I haven't had a good conversation with Justine in a month and if there is ever a time for a dieting person to have wine, this seemed like that time. We had wine. We talked about friends. We talked about shoes. We talked about my experience with the eccentric exercises advocated by Jonathan Bailor. We talked about the Food52 Cookbook, which Justine believes to be almost flawless, albeit confusingly organized. It was very fun. It was definitely the high road.

As we talked and drank, I made Nancy Silverton's red wine braised squid, which entails, as the name suggests, braising squid for an hour in red wine, olive oil, and brandy, along with a chopped orange (rind included), garlic, celery, and carrots. Serve with homemade garlic mayonnaise and garlic toast.

Justine had to take her kids home before the meal was ready, but her husband, Michael, stayed for dinner and to see the end of the game.  I wonder if he was glad he stayed for dinner. I know he was unhappy with the end of the game.

The squid was very tender -- not rubbery at all -- but I actually like the elastic crunch of squid and missed it. The broth was a purplish black and studded with chunks of bright orange peel. It was intimidating to look at. It was a very weird dish.

What we thought:

-Isabel didn't touch the squid or mayonnaise, but ate lots of garlic toast.

-Owen liked the squid, but said he couldn't eat very much because it was "too hard."

-Michael said the squid made him feel like he'd taken a vacation on an Italian island, but he wouldn't come out and say he liked it.

-My husband said the squid was too challenging to eat on its own, but that when he put it on the toast and added mayonnaise it was great. Which is exactly what Silverton writes in the headnote: "The rind gives the sauce a slight bitterness that can seem overwhelming until you eat it on crostini with a dab of mayonnaise, and then it all comes together." My husband, culinary savant.

- I liked it okay. Ate lots of the mayonnaise mixed up with the squid, which was not exactly a glorious diet moment, though I told myself it was acceptable because I skipped the toast. Later, I had bad dreams.

About squid: so cheap. If you're trying to save money at the supermarket, consider squid. At Whole Foods it costs $3.50 per pound cleaned and $2.50 per pound with beaks, globular eyes and lots of translucent jelly that must be squeezed out of the bodies and rinsed down the drain. I bought it uncleaned and spent 25 minutes prepping the cold, slippery squids and cutting off their tiny bulbous heads. By so doing, I saved $2.50 which will buy me a small Diet Coke next time I go see a movie.

Alternatively, I could have spent 25 minutes carefully hand-washing the shirt I was planning to take to the dry cleaner today and saved $6. Or, I could have cleaned out the car, which is a disgrace and causes my heart to sink every time I get in.  Or, I could have read a few good stories in the Sunday newspaper, which remains untouched. Or, I could have wrapped and packed away my mother's wedding china which will otherwise be destroyed in an earthquake. Et cetera.

The correct choice is to buy your squid already cleaned. And yet I know that when I'm standing there at the fish counter again I'll go for uncleaned. I just can't leave $2.50 sitting on the table. This is called thinking small.

On another subject, over at the Tournament of CookbooksTender got a big, wet kiss from Jacob Weisberg today. I would guess that in the final rounds it will come down to some combination of Tender, Mozza, and Super Natural Every Day. Tender would be my last choice among these three for some of  the very reasons Weisberg loved it.


  1. Is Jonathan Bailor's book/system what you are using to lose weight? Has it been working for you?

  2. Any reason you don't syndicate full blog posts to RSS? (I'm talking about the setting under "Site Feed" labeled "Allow Blog Feeds")

    Those of us who use blog readers (like only get the first few sentences of your posts. It'd be nice to see the whole thing.

  3. What Ken said, though I suspect it's to collect the clicks (since apparently in a move not unlike clinging to CD sales to count music hits, readers don't count, literally, in your hits, unless I'm out of it). I keep clicking over to comment anyway though so really--not a big difference for me.

  4. anonymous -- someone recommended JB's system so emphatically that I switched over from calorie counting, which wasn't working at all. I'm doing modified JB, which is definitely working. Can't eat as many vegetables as he calls for -- it seems almost impossible -- and you can't live any kind of normal life if you follow his diet strictly, but I like it. I haven't figured out the exercise yet. I tried one and did something bad to my body, but that's my fault. I should not be allowed to exercise unassisted.

    Ken & Meme -- I'll look into this today.

  5. I love reading your blog and totally enjoyed your book. However, I have to laugh sometimes when reading about what you can buy at Safeway. I live in the Blue Ridge mountains in a town of 5000. I can find pigs feet easily, but the thought of buying squid anywhere but in a bait shop is unthinkable.

  6. Thanks for switching over to full blog posts!

  7. I am wavering on my unabashed adoration for your blog since the diet entered. Yes, I have plumped up, and yes, I wish I would slim down, but what I really love is food and books and your writing about your family. If you are working thru a book but cannot cook half of what is there and which sounds promising, what kind of review is it? And? as a much older person than you, it is really impossible to be a foodie and stay really trim unless you have great genetics and a fetish for scads of exercise. You may lose, but you'll creep right back. Not to ultra obesity perhaps, but only spartans and the genetically blessed stay really thin.

  8. Dear Anonymous,
    I'm very glad you like my blog, if not as unabashedly as you used to!
    I gained 19 pounds in the year following my mother's death in March 2010. I was not superskinny to begin with, and when I added those 19 pounds I became overweight by every measure, including the doctor's. This has made me feel unhealthy, unattractive, and unhappy. I delayed and delayed with a diet because I couldn't figure out how to diet without missing a step on my blog. This fall I tried eating small portions of Nigel Slater's cakes and creamed spinach. I grew even chubbier.
    So in December I decided to diet for real. Getting back to a healthy weight is more important to me right now than reviewing Nancy Silverton's pasta recipes.
    My goal is not to become ultra-skinny, but to return to the weight I was in March 2010. I do not feel that it is an unnatural or unsustainable weight for me. Nor do I think it is unreasonable to take some time off from cooking pasta, pizza and desserts to get there.
    I do understand that this makes the blog less interesting -- other people have expressed dissatisfaction lately -- and I'm truly sorry. I hate feeling that my blog is a disappointment, because I still put so much into it.
    Still, I have to do this. It may be bad for the blog, but it's good for my life.

  9. Your blog is my favorite. I can't stop laughing out loud at your comments! I am very interested in your diet and your cooking attempts. You have a family and your own personal life which is more complex than just cooking and food consumption (or there lack of). It's all great and I love hearing about your adventures. Also a belated Happy Birthday to your Grandmother. I can see where you got your good looks and your sense of humor. She looks like a fabulous lady.

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