[Before you read on, it may be helpful to check out the link to Episode 484 of This American Life: https://www.thisamericanlife.org/484/...]
There is an allegation/urban legend that pork bung (rectum) is commonly used as a substitute for calamari and served to unknowing customers. It's often alleged (and nearly as often 'confirmed' as often as refuted) so much so that I know people who refuse to order calamari for fear of being served the final exit from a pig.
For years, after having heard Ben Calhoun report on the phenomenon on This American Life, I have wanted to conduct a double-blind taste test of my own, but I could never assemble a willing panel of judges to taste, test, and render a (hopefully definitive) answer. Finally, however, both of our kids were home, with friends in tow, so today was the day.
I purchased a package of frozen whole squid, bodies approximately the circumference of a pig's anus, as well as a couple of pork bungs (total length about 25 inches). I cut everything into rings, and settled on the Serious Eats recipe for fried calamari. [https://www.seriouseats.com/fried-cal...] Instead of the accompanying red sauce, though, I made a simple cocktail sauce and tartar sauce, plus provided some lemon wedges.
The first photo shows the squids and bungs cut into rings, each about ¾” long. I divided the leg sections between the squid and bungs so their presence or absence from either would not be the tip-off. The difference in color looked like it would be a sure sign which came from the sea and which was the pig’s poop chute, but I soldiered on. (In the photos, the real squid was in the light green bowl, while the pork bung was in the orange/red bowl.)
In the second and third photos, everything has been in a milk bath and then dredged in lightly seasoned flour. The flour muted the color difference quite a bit, so I thought maybe the urban legend had some legs to it.
In the last photo shows both final products, side-by-side. My five member panel agreed that, while there were certainly differences in appearance between them, either one, if served by itself, would have passed a visual inspection. On to tasting and testing!
I was the only one who knew which witch was which, but it didn’t take my tasters long to suss out the imposter. Most opted to try a sample of each sans sauce, but sauce or no sauce, the taste and texture of the pig product gave it away to everyone. It had a definite porky aroma and taste, and was much chewier than the calamari.
All six of us were certain we had never had pork bung served to us in place of real squid. And all six of us were just as certain we would never willingly eat pork bung again. Even now, hours later, my mind is playing tricks on me: I’d swear I still taste shit in my mouth.
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