I have to admit that I was astonished that an octopus in a tank in a German aquarium should have captured the world’s attention by correctly predicting the result of eight matches in the World Cup.
Just on Saturday I sat gob-smacked before my TV as I watched a news item on the octopus named Paul surrounded by hi-tech film crews from the major broadcasters filming the creatures every move – which with eight legs is rather a lot.
Sadly the news presenters on Sky News got their calamares in a twist. Normally the talking heads read straight from the autocue but there are one or two who like to throw in the odd quip which are usually as hilarious as hitting your funny bone.
When the exploits of Paul the English born octopus, who predicted Germany would beat his own country and Spain would triumph over the mighty Hun, were aired we were treated to asides about plates of calamares. Oh dear, oh dear – calamares are squid not octopus and I have to say that whilst I live in Spain under the sun of the Mediterranean diet calamares, pulpo and jibia are not dishes I would seek out. Calamares I could chew on but pulpo and jibia would see me running faster than an eight-legged octopus. Certainly faster than Wayne Rooney!
Just in case you were wondering what you’d do with an octopus should one stray your way (or indeed a Sky News presenter) I bring you a recipe below from Galicia where they know all about these beasts of the deep.
I should also point you to the blog of my esteemed colleague Brian Reyes – My Mediterranean Diet – which as the label says brings you wonderful recipes from this region. He has yet to tackle the octopus – wise man, wise man!
OCTOPUS 'A LA MUGARDESA'
2kg of octopus
1 green pepper
1 large onion
2 or 3 peeled tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon of hot paprika
3 cloves of garlic
Put 2 litres of water into a pan and, when it begins to boil, put the octopus into it briefly three times. That way it will be more tender and the suckers on the tentacles will not be lost. Then let it cook, over a strong heat, for 40 minutes. When this time is up, put the water to one side so you can use it to make the sauce. Peel and chop the potatoes and partly cook them in the reserved water. Then add salt to them. Finely chop the onion and add it to a frying pan with oil. When it is well done, add the chopped pepper and tomato. After 15 minutes, add 2 or 3 large spoonfuls of octopus cooking water. Put the potatoes in a deep serving dish and the chopped octopus in the centre. Add salt immediately. Lightly fry the garlic and, separately, mix the sweet and hot paprika. When the garlic is browned, add a large spoonful of cooking water and then the paprika mixture. Optionally, you can use a little vinegar. Pour the sauce obtained over the octopus.
By the by I am told that octopus should be eaten very hot indeed - as to Sky News presenters the hotter the better!