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UPDATE: Your Calamari Is Almost Certainly *Not* a Pig's Rectum

Like many blogs, we linked last week to one of many posts about calimari and hog bung (here's ours: Poor Mojo's Newswire: Sometimes calamari is just a pig's asshole). I'd listened to--and enjoyed--the TAL segment in question and, although I don't have a beef (pun!) with eating squids or intestines (fact!), I found the claim that bung was regularly--or even occasionally--served in the US to be highly suspect. The major issues being this: Bung is regular in diameter and has no tentacles; I've eaten pound upon pound of fried squid in my life and *never* recieved a platter featuring naught but identical--or even similar-sized--rings. So, I was gratified when the piece closed by saying basically: "You've almost certainly *never* eaten bung being passed as calamari, but I'm rooting for bung slipping through, because bung is an underdog."

But that's not what many folks got from that piece. As near as I can tell, what they got--despite the TAL producer directly saying the contrary--was something like, "ALL CALAMARI IS LIPS AND ASSHOLES!!!1!"

So, in the interest of knowledge and erudition:

Calamari made of pig rectum? The This American Life rumor isn’t true, but it’s fascinating. - Slate Magazine

A friend told me the other day that she’d heard a horrifying report on public radio: You know those deep-fried, chewy rings of calamari? Sure. Well, they’re sometimes served in imitation form, made from slices of a pig’s rectum. Wait … what?! And so it happened second-hand, as these things almost always do: An urban legend hatched and spread its wings.

My friend had heard the story from radio producer Ben Calhoun, who put it in his segment for the Jan. 11 episode of This American Life. You should go listen: It’s not an expose but a charming, funny paean to the hog bung. (More on that in a bit.) Calhoun doesn’t really think that buttholes have surfed into our seafood—”If I had to bet money on whether it’s happening [in the U.S.], I would absolutely bet money that it’s not,” he told me earlier this week . . .

. . .

There were no eyewitnesses at all, in fact, and all the other evidence was circumstantial: A recent activist report found signs of modest seafood fraud—one kind of fish mislabeled as another—and a taste test showed that switching rectums for calamari might indeed go undetected. Calhoun did not try to hide the weakness of his case: “Just to repeat one last time,” he said at the close of his radio script, “I have no proof that anyone, anywhere, has ever tried to pass off pork bung as calamari in a restaurant … “