In pursuit of "artificial calamari"
Would you confuse calamari with…well…read the blog post. Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/avlxyz/. Some rights reserved.
Interesting and fun journalist-in-pursuit-of-elusive-story on This American Life this weekend. Producer Ben Calhoun gets a tip that a box of hog rectums (recta?) – known as hog "bung" in the industry – is labeled as "artificial calamari". He goes on a rather exhaustive search to see if whether bung is actually being served as calamari somewhere.
It's a cool story with twists and turns. I had a couple thoughts:
In Argentina, people consume massive amounts of basically an upstream version of "artificial calamari", albeit from a different animal. They're cow intestine, they're grilled, spritzed with lemon, and served as an appetizer to a traditional steak. CHINCHULINES! I've had them, and they're really not all that bad. Especially when a good Argentine steak follows.
Also, Calhoun's story illuminates several interesting points about the industrial meat and seafood chain. He mentions the recent investigation into mislabeled fish, or "seafood fraud". And one of his sources, a meat processing plant manager, offers this money quote of how efficiently a modern pork processing plant works:
They separate the blood from the blood plasma. They save that. They save the lungs, they save the pancreas, they save the spleen, they save the heart. The only thing left by the time its all said and done is the skull and the jawbone.
Calhoun's story is radio done well. It's worth a listen, even if only to find out how hog bung calamari stand up in a taste test to the real thing.