Calamary as live sashimi – a tentacle dance on the plate. Calamary from the grill, as tempura, salted and lightly fermented, fermented in its entrails with chilly, with sesame, with purple mint leaves, lumbered, fluted and dried, torn into filaments, sweet, hot or sour. In Hakodate, the large harbour city lying to the south of Hokkaido, calamary is king – and July is its golden age. In the morning market calamari is offered in its many forms, also live in glass tanks, in bloated plastic bags half-filled with water or to be angled in an imposing basin – success guaranteed. And what the young members of the public personally retrieve from the water is promptly shashimi-ised and transported on the spot with a bit of soy sauce and grated radish into the bottom of their own gut. Nobody here seems to have the slightest doubt that this creature is ultimately destined to be fished, cut and eaten up by humans. Children know this, too – and even if some of them try tat first to stroke the calamary, a little later they coolly poke their chopsticks into the semi-translucent flesh of the squid. And, even the calamary seem to know the rules by which they live and die here – because: where does their ink remain? The water in the basin cannot be clearer. Have the creatures sprayed out all of their ink, has their defense mechanism been bred away – or, do they keep aside their ink for a master chef, who wants to perhaps braise them in it?
First Publication: 20-8-2014