Chipirones en su tinta

The English half of the menu reads, "Baby squid in its own ink".

August, 2000, seated at the top floor of the wonderful Botín restaurant in Madrid (according to its own menu-pamphlet, Botín is the oldest continuously operational restaurant in the world; whether or not that's true, the place has wonderful food! :), I ordered this dish on a lark...

I was motivated by a combination of spontaneous adventurousness, a siblingly hankering to mildly gross out my sister (a vegetarian; though after seeing a whole roast suckling pig carried past her, the baby squid thing didn't phase her ;), and the knowledge that I would probably have the most interesting dish among our entire party.

I was right.

Our tour guide had also told us that Chipirones en su tinta was a regional delicacy, and that Botín was probably the best place to get it.

The dish only looked iffy on the menu... the dish itself was marvellously presented, and in retrospect, the sight of a plate full of little roasted squid (sans tentacles), cooked in their own ink, probably would have given me pause no matter how pretty they made it look, but luckily I had already had a few glasses of (excellent) Sangría, and was feeling rather imperturbable.

Let me make it clear: these were whole baby squid, not at all like Calimari. If eating Calimari were like eating onion rings, Chipirones would be like eating the whole onion. Only much tastier. ;)

The squidlets were served with rice and a hard, biscuitlike bread for sopping up the ink, which actually made a wonderful sauce for the squid. Perhaps the ink was prepared with other ingredients, or maybe it was just the way the ink and squid were cooked together, but the ink was fairly thick, sweet, and saucelike, unlike raw squid ink.

The squid themselves proved to be delicious, though I found it prudent to take small bites, and necessary to alternate between bites of squid and rice, because however delicious and roastedly firm the squid were (and despite the incipience of my relatively mild inebriation), they still had a distinct texture, being (or having been) squid, and it took a little while to get used to.

Having, by the end of dinner, drained a half-carafe of Sangría, and leaving nothing on the plate but ink (and still somehow being sober enough to add up the cheque!), I felt that my adventurous impulse had turned into what was possibly the most satisfying meal I'd ever had. Two years later, I still crave it from time to time. Someday, I'm going back... for seconds! :D

If there's a moral to this story (a dubious proposition at best!), it would be Try new things!

Try new things. You may be pleasantly surprised. :)