Archive for August, 2015

Make sure your calamari has tentacles on it

Sunday, August 30th, 2015

This will/should really make you think

Recently I was forwarded a link to a radio program and frankly the story line seemed too strange to be true.  But I listened to the first episode, minutes 5-30, and found myself not only absorbed but really surprised yet laughing out loud.

First, a bit about the show. TCalamarihis American Life is a weekly public radio show broadcast on more than 500 stations to about 2.2 million listeners. Each week they choose a theme and put together different kinds of stories on that theme. It is produced in collaboration with Chicago Public Media, and delivered by PRX, the Public Radio Exchange.

The episode here was #484 on WBEX aired January 11, 2013 titled “Dopplegangers” and co-hosted by Fred Armisen and Ira Glass.  A Doppleganger is a look-alike or double or evil twin, sometimes portrayed as a paranormal phenomenon, and sometimes as a harbinger of bad luck. So the story is about a look-alikes but nothing I expected.

The authors got a tip about restaurants serving deep fried pig intestines as fake fried calamari, you can’t make it up….right?  In the meat packing industry pig intestine is called “Pork Bung”…..nice!  But who knows.  We know restaurants often substitute fish with a less expensive fish…..DNA tests have showed that in Miami it’s not the fish advertised 30% of the time, Boston 49%, NYC 39%, LA 55%!!!!!  Rock fish for snapper? whatever for grouper? and who has not received shark passed off as scallops?  By the way processed pork bung costs half of what squid costs.

This is a very nice piece of reporting with the story going from the original tip…. to a hog processing plant rumored to have boxes labeled “Imitation Calamari”….to The USDA… The National Restaurant Association…The National Pork Producer’s Council… Squid Fisherman’s Association… US Export Federation… restaurants… rumors that the pork bung gets shipped to China for processing.  This all sounds very impressive, but in the end all that could be found were strong rumors.  Often the final words were “I never heard of it but it’s not impossible”.

So the author got his sister, who is a chief, to buy pork bung at a Chinese market in New York and they prepared and cooked a batch along side real calamari rings.  You guessed it.  They could not tell which was which.   I’ll leave you to listen to the exchange while they were testing the samples, hilarious.  So you can believe the rumor or not.  For me, all my calamari has to have tentacles from now on, just to be sure. And I’ll close with a quote from Fred Armisen……..”This is for the bung in us all.”

RO 9-15

Pickled Mushrooms

Saturday, August 1st, 2015

Pickled Mushrooms  This is an easy appetizer that can be prepared in advance and takes less than 20 minutes….then It just has to sit until the party. I love pickled stuff so it’s one of my favorites. Try it if you like that vinegary taste and I’m sure you will love it too.


  • 1 pound button mushrooms
  • 2/3 cup tarragon (white) vinegar
  • 1/2 cup good quality olive oil
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Dash pepper
  • Dash hot pepper sauce
  • 1 medium onion in separated, sliced rings

Clean the mushrooms. (Do not soak them in water but just clean under running water) Remove stems if you desire. Combine all ingredients except mushrooms and onions and mix well. Add mushrooms and onions. The mushrooms should be submerged in the liquid. Let them rest in a covered dish for about 5 hours, or you can refrigerate for 8 hours. Stir occasionally, it’s easiest to seal them in a plastic container and flip them over now and then.

Pickled Mushrooms

Leave out the onions if you don’t like onions, or have an allergy of course. And you can also use red wine vinegar or even add a bit of red wine….wine always helps.