Edible Nonfiction Challenge
Nobu Adilman takes the Edible Nonfiction Challenge
The culinary Renaissance Man and Food Jammer throws his hat—or in this case, octopus—into the ring with his piece of Edible Nonfiction, "Getting Squiggly on the Beach."
Getting Squiggly On The Beach
by Nobu Adilman
The Brazilian beach went on for miles in both directions and we were the only humans in sight. The sky was broadcasting the purest of blues. The ocean was a crystal aqua and perfectly still. It was so quiet, so hot. The white sand we had staggered through had jellied my legs and I fell into a self-satisfied sleep. But then I woke up ravenously hungry—a big problem on an isolated beach. When you're in Paradise, though, weird things can happen.
As if answering a distress call from my stomach, an old man appeared from one of the thatched roof huts dotting the beach and handed us a couple of menus. Menus! How this mysterious man appeared out of nowhere was one thing. But that he had fresh coconut milk, bell peppers, tomatoes, garlic, onions, limes, chilies and a choice of shrimp, octopus, or fish, was simply perplexing. I ordered octopus stew and waited; or more specifically, I tanned.
Thirty-five agonizing minutes later, a piping hot Polvo Guisado (octopus stew) arrived in a weathered clay bowl with a side of crunchy farofa, a toasted manioc flour mix that is as ubiquitous on Brazilian dinner tables as salt and pepper. Its grit and smoky tones offered a textural balance to the supple, and ample, octopus. The dendé oil—the essential base to the stew also known as palm oil, a gastronomic footnote in Bahian history with equally healthy and unhealthy properties—mellowed the acidity of the tomatoes in the broth. The heat from the chilies ironically cooled me down. We thanked our saviour, the chef, who collected our bowls and disappeared back into the hut—never to be seen again.
I fell back asleep. I can't remember if I dreamt or not.
Nobu Adilman is a writer, producer, TV host, actor, and filmmaker living in Toronto. He co-created and hosted Food Jammers for the Food Network, though a lot of people know him as "that guy" from "that show" or "was it that other show?"
Photo credit: Christopher Wahl