Sea Urchin

Sea urchin and I got off to a rocky start. I was six years old when my brother Alexander stepped on one, and the pain from the needles was excruciating for him. My love for them blossomed, however, at the age of 11, when I accompanied the butcher from my family's Beirut hotel on fishing trips. I would borrow a spoon from the restaurant, grab my mask, tube, and fish net, and dive for an hour to gather dozens of sea urchins. On the way back to the shore, I'd start opening them on the boat, liberating the creamy orange flesh from its spiny shell and devouring it with a squeeze of lemon. That thrill remains with me every time I add sea urchin to risotto or pasta or mix it with cream to make a spread. —Philippe Massoud, ilili, New York City


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