Raising My Daughter to Be an Octopus Lover
October 21, 2019 9:56 AM   Subscribe

I was thirteen when we arrived in Toronto after leaving Dubrovnik, as Yugoslavia was on the brink of civil war. My parents told me and my sisters that we’d come and stay for a year, until political tensions settled down. They picked Canada because that’s where we could get our papers. They chose Toronto because we know one person there.
Somewhere along the way of trying to lose my accent, I lose myself. While learning English, I shed pieces of my old self and language in order to assimilate. I’m not sure when it happens. It takes one move to become an immigrant, but years can pass before you discard bits of your heritage.
“Hoba! Hoba!” my daughter screeches, using the short word for ‘hobotnica’—octopus in Croatian. My friend says, “She’s Croatian alright.”
posted by dmit (9 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
This makes me happy on so many levels. Thanks for posting!
posted by mumimor at 10:45 AM on October 21 [1 favorite]

I must be Croatian, because I have also never understood why anyone would complain about fish being too "fishy". That's the point!
posted by Nec_variat_lux_fracta_colorem at 10:48 AM on October 21 [2 favorites]

heh, that's funny. I'm trying to raise my daughter to love octopus as well but by not eating them.
posted by dhruva at 11:44 AM on October 21 [21 favorites]

I'm also on team don't-eat-octopus (and cuttlefish), delicious as they are. Nevertheless this was a lovely essay.
posted by sjswitzer at 12:38 PM on October 21 [4 favorites]

I'm trying to raise my daughter to love octopus as well but by not eating them.
posted by dhruva

This is...kind of insensitive? Considering this is a story about how it's difficult to hold on to cultural traditions and foodways and pass them along?
posted by fiercecupcake at 2:36 PM on October 21 [5 favorites]

I recently stopped eating octopus because my 5 year old looked at me with her big eyes reproachfully when she found out I ate it. Octopi are her favorite animals.

It's hard, especially when you marry an American, to keep your traditions. I've had to think carefully about what parts of my culture I want to fight for and what to let go of. This is a lovely story and I'm glad I read it.

At least we'll always have pho.
posted by snickerdoodle at 4:46 PM on October 21 [4 favorites]

It's hard, especially when you marry an American, to keep your traditions.

Oh, God, this.

Especially food.

The only meats my wife will eat are chicken breast, pork chop, beef steak, crab, and salmon fillet. I made her moules marinieres for an anniversary early on. She ate one or two, fiddled with the third for a while, and then put it down and pushed her plate away.

How I will teach my kids to try new foods with my wife there making faces, I do not know.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 6:08 AM on October 22 [5 favorites]

I think the difference between good fresh fishy and spoiled fish is pretty obvious, if you're familiar with good seafood. If your main understanding of seafood is the freezer section, then yeah, 'fishy smelling' is only ever going to be a bad thing. It's just unfortunate that in English we use the same word to describe both things.
posted by yeahlikethat at 7:39 AM on October 22 [3 favorites]

I visited Croatia for the first time this summer. It's a breath-taking country - mind-blowingly beautiful. We spent a week at the beach which was fabulous, and then we drove up the coast, inland to Zagreb and then continued on to Vienna.

My husband and I had the best time and I highly recommend it as a destination. I don't eat seafood but everyone I was with did and seemed to really enjoy all the dishes on offer.

Along with having a fantastic vacation, I came away with the realization that as an American, I actually knew next to nothing about Yugoslavia, or the Yugoslavian wars of the end of the 20th century. I've been doing reading since we got home to try to understand a little more.
posted by See you tomorrow, saguaro at 8:02 AM on October 22 [1 favorite]

« Older a contest of storytelling   |   Portrait of an Inessential Government Worker Newer »

You are not currently logged in. Log in or create a new account to post comments.