A recent segment of a public radio program looked into an apparent urban myth involving an imitation seafood product you won't likely find at the neighborhood Piggly Wiggly. It's allegedly being replaced by a product that comes from a point just south of the appendage that pigs are known to wiggle. According to the "This American Life" segment, an imitation version of deep-fried calamari rings now making the culinary rounds reportedly comes not from squid tentacles as God and Lynne Rosetto Kasper intended, but from hog rectums. The segment treated the idea of turning a sow's rear into a silk purse seine of gourmet Italian seafood with skepticism and humor. No eyewitnesses to the alleged covert substitution could be found. No packages turned up bearing tiny inscriptions informing consumers that a D-list pork product was among the imitation calamari's ingredients, as required by law.As in other urban myths, it was more a matter of a friend hearing from a relative who knew someone in the food processing industry that imitation calamari was becoming more squeal than squid.
It reminded me of my brief stint as crewman on a Maine lobster boat back in the late '70s, when a rumor began circulating that imitation scallops were made by using cookie cutters to punch circular chunks of meat out of the bat-like wings of skates, which sometimes ended up in lobster traps.That turned out to be a rural myth, like cow tipping, only a lot less fun and a bit more tasteless. The texture, grain and taste of the skate wing bore no resemblance to scallops.But had it turned out to be true that the main active ingredient in deep fried fake calamari was a pork product unfit for Spam, would I favor the real thing over its cheap imitation? In a pigs eye! Or something.I mean, deep-fried calamari is still squid, after all, not a side of fries. It's a bit more exotic and icky than the all-American fare I'm used to - like bologna, pork rinds, and cheese dog Hot Pockets. I suspect that breaded and deep-fried calamari rings and breaded and deep-fried pig rectums would both taste pretty much the same.Like chicken nuggets.***In the making a better tomorrow, tomorrow department, the Washington Post announced Friday that Stephen Colbert's sister, Elizabeth Colbert-Busch, would file papers on Tuesday in South Carolina to run for the U.S. Congress seat recently vacated by Republican Tim Scott.Colbert-Busch, a Clemson University business development official and a Democrat, faces former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, listed by some detractors as R-Appalachian Trail, due to his purported location during a mysterious weeklong disappearance in 2009.Could be the Comedy Central truthiness guru shut down his $773,000 Super Pac a bit too early.