Calamari and fries

Dinner in Rome with my students


In Rome, I once took a bunch of American students out for dinner. We all ordered different appetizers, but when the waiter brought the food, he had brought pulpa – sliced cold octopus – for everybody, instead of whatever they had ordered. He explained (in Italian) that the pulpa was really exceptionally good that evening, much better than the stuff we had ordered, and so he wanted us to eat this. I said I appreciated the thought, but I wasn’t sure Americans would eat pulpa. He looked shocked. “Not eat pulpa! What do Americans eat?” I let him leave the pulpa, and it was indeed the best pulpa I have ever eaten, but only two of us ate it.

How to make Calamari and Fries:

Preheat oven to 425 F. Pour 1/8 cup of olive oil on a baking sheet and spread it around. Slice up four large potatoes into fries. Scatter the fries on the baking sheet and toss them with tongs to get them all coated in oil. Bake about twenty minutes or until the fries begin to blacken at the edges.

Meanwhile do the calamari. Take a pound of calamari tubes and tentacles. In a small bowl, break two eggs and add 1/4 cup of flour, and mix. Sort out all the tentacles and toss them into the eggs. Slice all the tubes crossways into 1/4 inch wide slices, so they are like a lot of little white rings. Toss the rings in the egg bowl too. Mix it up so that all the calamari is coated with eggs and flour.

In a large frying pan, heat 1/4 cup of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the calamari and eggs, and stir with a spatula until they are all cooked, about 3 minutes. It’s hard to tell when they’re cooked, but it’s probably fine just to see when all the egg is set up. If you cook them too long they’ll be rubbery, so don’t go longer than 3 minutes.

Take the fries out of the oven and serve everything hot, with a cucumber and tomato salad on the side, and maybe some feta cheese and olives. Serve lemon slices to squeeze on the calamari.

How long will calamari keep?

Not at all. Eat them hot!

Published by Karen Carr

Dr. Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.

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