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Friday, July 16, 2010

Paul The Octopus: Out Of The Paella Pan And Into The Fire

Octopus just can't seem to get a break. Even cephalopod successes somehow morph into tragedy.

First there was the wild success of eight-armed prognosticator Paul correctly picking every World Cup football game he tipped. That feat alone should have ensured that Paul could jet off in a cloud of ink to wild cheers.

But soccer is the hooligan sport, after all, so it can't be that simple.

And, sure enough, fans of losing soccer clubs like Argentina and Germany were soon calling for the head on a platter of Oberhausen Aquarium Sea Life Center's most storied resident.

Now an "axis of edible" has heaped saltwater on the octopus's wounds. RIA Novosti says Paul's "brethren" (presumably octopus or its ancestral kin and fellow cephalopod, squid) was served to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Dmitry Medvedev over talk of World Cup action at dinner this week.

The choice must have gone over well with Merkel, whose countrymen's appetites were whetted when Paul correctly picked Spain to beat Germany in the semifinals.

But the Russians had better change the menu when Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero comes calling.

Paul is understandably treated with greater respect by victorious Spain, where the township of Carballino even tried to rent him to be the guest of honor at their annual party.

Even that invitation is hardly what it seems, however. Carballino is renowned for its annual Octopus Festival, where Paul's "brethren" are the main course. Polbo a feira, anyone?

Provided it's done sustainably, I have little beef with other folks' eating habits. And I loves me a piece of freshly grilled octopus.

But I've given up eating octopus ever since I started encountering them on dives and regularly being dazzled by their intelligence. I just can't bring myself to eat them anymore.

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