Gather round, kids. It’s story time. This evening, after a tasty dinner with my family, we sat down to watch a rerun of Chopped. The episode was titled, “Bizarre foods”, asking the chefs to create delectable dishes out of some pretty strange stuff — pork dust, duck beaks, hot sauce jelly beans. If you’ve ever seen Chopped, you might be thinking, “these chefs usually have to cook with some pretty odd food. Why make it harder?” (If you’ve never seen Chopped before, stop reading this article, hop on Netflix and check an episode out. It’s some good shit.)
The entree basket included an ingredient I’d never heard of before: Pork Bung. At first glance it looks like a thin sausage, but as the episode went on, the all knowing Marcus Samuelsson proceeded to tell us that it is taken from the rectum of a pig.
A few weeks ago, I wrote on the pretty hot and happening trend of eating every part of an animal. Chopped has caught on this bandwagon, featuring some pretty wacky ingredients, in particular this bung. After the episode was done, I did some research and found that perhaps we’re all eating a little bit more Pork Bung than we think.
I was late to this discovery, so perhaps you are too, but several articles I found point to the use of Pork Bung as imitation Calamari. In 2013, the radio show, “This American Life”, created a piece discussing the Doppelgängers of our food systems, and Pork Bung masking as Calamari was, well, high on the list.
Some other evil twins are slightly more innocuous, horseradish dyed green to look like wasabi, for example. I would say they come close to having the same flavor. Or maybe not — I’m starting to doubt if I’ve ever even had real wasabi.
But these little tricks come down to cost. Calamari and wasabi are much more expensive than Pork Bung and horseradish. The latter two are abundant in the United States, and therefore cheaper.
If I’m honest, I’m more concerned about the moral questions of feeding a person pork even if they believe it’s Calamari. Many religious groups abstain from pork, but what happens if people eat it unknowingly?
Keep an eye out, people. Don’t get tricked.
Barclay, Eliza. “A Nation Of Meat Eaters: See How It All Adds Up.” The Salt. National Public Radio, 11 Aug. 2014. Web. 17 Mar. 2016.
Chen, Susannah. “10 Fake Foods You’re Probably Eating.” First We Feast. First We Feast, 03 Feb. 2015. Web. 17 Mar. 2016.
Del Signore, John. “Is That Calamari Or Pig Rectum?” Gothamist. Gothamist, 14 Jan. 2013. Web. 17 Mar. 2016.
Wang, Chichi. “The Nasty Bits: Bung.” Serious Eats. Serious Eats, 16 Nov. 2010. Web. 17 Mar. 2016.