Thursday, March 26, 2009


Because of limited budget, limited imagination, and limited time, I repeatedly prepare and eat the same 6 or so things for dinner. Pasta. Buffalo fake-chicken sandwiches. Salads. Trader Joe's frozen pizza.

And most of the time I don't mind that it's so boring. But then whenever I go over to my sister's she whips up something delicious and fresh and that contains more than 4 ingredients. I'm always impressed, and it inspires me to put more effort into my dinners.

I went shopping on Tuesday night with this in mind. And also, in my head I've told myself I'm on a diet. I'm all up on my high horse, saying to myself "I'm eating right. Getting in shape!' But I haven't actually altered my behavior. Yet.

While walking through the grocery store aisles, I tried to come up with some healthful and complicated meals. Unfortunately, I was also starving and had to pee so I was distracted.

I did come up with one dinner, however. A salad topped with fried calamari rings and tossed with homemade dressing. (I know, the fried part isn't terribly healthy, but it did meet the quota for complexity.)

I wandered over to the frozen seafood section. There was only one calamari option, which was a colorful package, the shape and weight of a brick. You couldn't see what, exactly, was inside it. And the copy offered no explanation. It was simply "calamari."

I presumed inside this brick would be delightful little rings. Last night, when I finally opened it to prepare my masterpiece, I discovered the brick was actually comprised of 4 whole squids, frozen together, with a wad of tiny tentacles at one end. Clearly they'd been shoved into this rectangular tray before they were frozen. And now they were holding its shape.

I stared at the squidbrick for a moment, debating how to proceed. I supposed I would just thaw it and then slice it into rings. I didn't have time to stand there and wait for it to thaw out, so I figured I'd just run it under water for a while.

I removed the squidbrick and brought it over to the sink. After holding it under running water for a minute, some of the outer portions of the squid began to thaw out. It was then I realized how squiddy this was, because I began to see its flippers. Or whatever they are called. These things:

So the flippers starting flapping around under the running water. And then a tentacle chunk fell off and landed with a slap in the sink. And then another. Plop. I realized then that the tentacles were those tiny spider kind that normally come with fried calamari at restaurants, and were not a part of the same 4 squids whose heads I was holding. Which was good, I guess. But weird at the same time. Where had the big tentacles gone?

At this point Devin wandered into the kitchen, wondering what was taking me so long to "throw together a quick salad." He looked at the squidbrick in my hands, fins flapping in the breeze, and the tentacle deposits in the sink. He made a face. "Don't worry," I said. "It'll be good. Just gonna fry it up. Just like a restaurant." And then, "If it doesn't work I'll make something else."

After about 5 minutes, I could sense the ice at the core of the squidbrick was beginning to melt. I applied pressure to try to separate the 4 of them and soon they snapped apart.

I was relieved none of them had eyes or beaks.

After slicing them up --I ended up with rings after all! --and battering and frying the pieces, I was quite surprised that I'd actually managed to make something that looked just like regular fried calamari. And it even tasted good!

It took 1 hour of fussing around in the kitchen in order to produce 2 salads which we ate in about 6 minutes. I'm not sure it was worth it. Tonight I think we'll stick with frozen pizza.


surviving myself said...

It's always good to go with things that can be fried.

You should fry your pizza!

Erica said...

The beauty of the 1-ingredient meal is that you cut your losses should you screw something up.

Frozen pizza = $10.
Eggplant lasagna with all organic ingredients = $30

Yes, I speak from experience. :)

Felicia said...

I have the same problem with cooking dinner. Cooking being the magic word. I usually opt for dining out...But seriously, if I were you I would have freaked out immediately and shoved the entire thing down my garbage disposal in terror.

miss clover said...

wait. how did you make the rings?? it sounds so magical what you did. squids aren't ring-shaped. i am totally fascinated by this process.

Aartee said...

LOL I would have been mortified...but I'm a least it came out somewhat good!

Hollywood Sucker said...

surviving- It's like I always say, "I'll fry anything once!"

Erica- I know. I think this was a pricey endeavor. I'm afraid to do the math.

Felicia- They sort of gave me the impression they might spring back to life at any moment. Cutting them into tiny pieces was the only way to save myself.

Miss Clover-Their bodies are hollow tubes so when you slice them up- tada! Rings!

Aarte- Yes I discovered cooking skills I didn't know I had. Bonus!

JenBun said...

That's dedication! Because squidbrick? Ew...

Anonymous said...

Something of an acquired taste, but if you've ever had to eat them.. you learn to pick out which ones are better used as projectile weapons.

kat said...

Squidbrick = my new favorite derogatory term. Will be using it on my boss shortly.

Rachel Leonard said...

You are hilarious!

nicoleantoinette said...

Dude. Gross, but awesome at the same time. Totally reminds of dissecting a squid in high school.

Bird* said...

LOL ...kinda creepy.