Sexy Feast: Tantalizing Tentacle Porn at Madison Park Conservatory

madison_park_octopus_500At a recent dinner, Madison Park Conservatory offered my kind of menu: liver pate, foie gras terrine, roasted bone marrow, grilled beef tongue, wild boar ragu, and grilled octopus. Ordering was easy: “One of each, please.”

As Cormac Mahoney was top chef during Tako Truk’s summer fling two years ago (he’s also worked at Sitka & Spruce), I was especially interested in his octopus dish. Brightened with marinated onions and some tzatziki, it was good (as were just about all of the dishes), though the octopus was cooked to a soft texture, whereas I prefer it the “Japanese” way: crunchy and chewy.

It seems like a lot of restaurants really cook down their octopus, perhaps as a nod to Western tastes. After all, so many people don’t dare order octopus; some can’t even bear the thought of seeing one.

(It’s the same with squid. And while some want “calamari” rings, they don’t appreciate the wonderful texture of the tentacles.)

So what does Madison Park Conservatory’s octopus dish teach us about sex?

It’s not about what’s weird. It’s about being open-minded.

Take tentacle porn.

Some see tentacle porn (in which octopuses or other creatures get it on with humans–typically sweet, innocent females), popular in Japan, as symbolic of that country’s perverse nature. Fact is, octopuses have been part of Japan’s sexual scene at least as far back as the early 1800′s (during the openness of the Edo period), popping up in shunga (erotic art, often given as gifts to couples on their wedding nights). The classic example is Katsushika Hokusai’s The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife, in which a pair of octopuses entangles a seemingly willing woman, one kissing her and caressing a breast while the other engages in cunnilingus. Now, in modern-day Japan, an octopus’ tentacles are an easy way to show penetration of a woman, since censorship laws prevent the portrayal of an actual penis.

Lest we get judgmental, it’s important to note that culturally, the Japanese have traditionally enjoyed animation, and embraced what’s fantastic and surreal. I’ve stepped inside some love hotels in Japan, amazed at rooms that range in theme from Hello Kitty to hardcore S&M.

I’m libertarian on sexual issues like pornography, drawing the line on depictions of children and violence. But who am I to say where we draw the lines on personal fantasy?

So while some say that the consumption of octopus, either sexually or culinarily, is perverse or weird, it’s not if that’s part of your culture. Or if you make it part of your culture. As with many matters sensual (sex and food), it’s worth opening your mind and giving it a try. You might just find the thought, if not the reality, to be pleasurable.

(Now, ahead of a trip I’m planning to Japan in a couple of months, allow me to go back to my research: trying to find a love hotel with tentacles.)

First published in Seattle Weekly’s Voracious on February 22, 2011.

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One Response to “Sexy Feast: Tantalizing Tentacle Porn at Madison Park Conservatory”

  1. March 2, 2011 at 9:32 am #

    I don’t know about the tentacle porn. I can’t say I’m well versed, or versed at all, in porn. But, I have become obsessed with tongue. YUMMMM!!!!

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