World Cup boosts popularity of octopus


Chris Dove, contributing editor, reporting from Malaga, Spain

Published on
July 13, 2010

Paul the Oracle Octopus shocked observers after his 100 percent success rate in forecasting World Cup winning football teams. Selecting the correct country-flagged box before sliding in to retrieve the awaiting mussel, Paul’s psychic power in predicting Spain’s Cup win has whipped the Spanish media into a frenzy and draw a lot of attention to this seafood species.

Andrés Iniesta, the midfielder who scored Spain’s winning goal against The Netherlands in South Africa on Sunday, said after the match, “Now the price of octopus will rise in Spain.”

Elena Espinosa, Spain’s minister of environment and fisheries, declared that Spain has “the world’s best octopus.” On Monday, she asked the European Council of Ministers at its meeting in Brussels “for a [fishing] ban on Paul so the Germans do not eat him!”

A group of entrepreneurs in O Carballiño, in northwest Galicia, offered EUR 30,000 (USD 38,175) to buy the octopus from Germany’s Oberhuasen aquarium, hailing Paul as a symbol of the area and the ideal mascot to promote the O Carballiño octopus fair on 8 August.

If the purchase offer isn’t finalized in time, the town seeks to temporally transfer Paul to O Carballiño to the festival, said mayor Carlos Montes. Paul has already been awarded honorary citizenship of the town.

At two-and-a-half years old, Paul is six months off the life expectancy of an octopus (“pulpo” in Spanish). While opinion is divided in the town on whether to simply display him in an aquarium or sell it and eat it. Octopus “a feira” is a regional delicacy and the annual festival’s most popular dish, boiled and served with finely sliced paprika, olive oil and boiled potatoes.

The Muros live fish auction in La Coruña reported that not only has it “sold more octopus since Paul has achieved popularity, but prices have dropped to between EUR 2 to 3 (USD 2.50 to 3.80) per kilogram compared to EUR 4 (USD 5) before the ban,” referring to the cessation of octopus fishing in Galician waters, which began on 1 June and ended 5 July.

On Wednesday, Mercabarna’s fresh octopus price stood at EUR 2.50 (USD 3.18) per kilogram, with thawed and chilled octopus priced at EUR 5.20 (USD 6.6) per kilogram.

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