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Artificial Calamari From Pork Bung?

By   /  March 19, 2013  /  Comments Off on Artificial Calamari From Pork Bung?

After I was done laughing at the idea, I began to wonder, “Why not?”  The Locavore movement includes using every bit of the animal for food.  Are we on the cusp of a new market?  You tell me.

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Calamari on one side of the plate, sliced hog rectums on the other.  Which is which?

Calamari on one side of the plate, sliced hog rectums on the other. Which is which?

Episode 484 of “This American Life” is about doppelgangers, or twins unrelated by birth.  In Act I, reporter Ben Calhoun learns that it’s possible that pork bung (the technical term for pork rectum) is being sold as a calamari substitute.  After exhaustive research and questioning everyone he can find, Ben never arrives at a definitive answer to the question “are restaurants actually substituting pork bung for calamari?”

Ben then decides the real question is CAN pork bung pass as Calamari?  There was only one way to know for sure.  He had to cook up some bung and eat it. And if the taste was overwhelming and the texture was all wrong, well, then he’d have his answer.

“And at this point, I’ll be frank,” Ben says.  “I started to root for the bung. I realized that this is not a story about fraud. It’s not a bait and switch story.  It’s a story about possibility. It’s classic rags to riches. It’s about whether a cut of meat– perhaps the lowliest, most malignable cut of meat in America– might somehow, in at least one place on the planet, be dipped in the redemptive oils of the great culinary equalizer that is the deep fryer.  And it might emerge transformed, no longer an outcast, but instead hair combed, clean shaven, in a suit and tie. It might walk reborn onto a table. Through sheer force of resemblance, it might be loved. Its history, years of drudgery and hardship, doing the body’s least glamorous job, all washed away.”

Ben tells such a great story, that I can’t ruin by telling you the ending.  So here’s the link to Episode 484.  Scroll down the page to Act One “Dead Ringer” and click on the arrow pointing to the right to play this part of the podcast.

Our special feature articles are all about looking at things in a new light. If you have suggestions about things we might explore and present, let us know.

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About the author

editor and contributor

Kathy worked with the Bureau of Land Management for 12 years before founding Livestock for Landscapes in 2004. Her twelve years at the agency allowed her to pursue her goal of helping communities find ways to live profitably AND sustainably in their environment. She has been researching and working with livestock as a land management tool for over a decade. When she's not helping farmers, ranchers and land managers on-site, she writes articles, and books, and edits videos to help others turn their livestock into landscape managers.

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