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I first had octopus in 1972 in a small restaurant on a tiny island off the coast of southern Turkey. It was the only thing on the menu - come to think of it, there was no menu.

I watched as my waiter went down to the water, pulled up a net, took out what was to be my lunch and beat it against the rickety wooden dock - to soften it up, he later explained to me.

I tried to soften up this guy too, by soaking him in papaya juice which is a natural meat tenderizer. It helped somewhat but he remained a pretty tough customer. I'll have to try again.