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Random Food Report: KFC Smuggler's Blues

1. Smuggler's Blues.

If you want to smuggle your pet turtle aboard a plane in a bag of KFC, do not say "There's no turtle in there, just a hamburger," when questioned.

On July 29, security officials at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport stopped a passenger passing through X-ray screening when what was supposedly a KFC burger showed "odd protrusions" resembling turtle limbs.

Sure enough, when confronted the traveler admitted attempting to smuggle his beloved reptile aboard.

We suspect he tried to hide the terrapin in the "Spanish roast chicken braised in red sauce" featured on the Chinese KFC menu. Looking closely, the patty on that sandwich does look a bit turtle-shaped. Minus the legs, that is.

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On the other hand, these folks are actually smuggling KFC:

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2. Love Me Tender.

Earlier this summer, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (popularly known as FSIS) proposed a new "descriptive designation for needle- or blade-tenderized beef products."

Referred to as "mechanically tenderized" in the meat-processing business, tenderized products have been injected with a marinade or other solution. The industry employs such techniques to "improve the tenderness of less tender, and typically less expensive, beef cuts." The new rule would require the designation to appear on the label along with validated cooking instructions.

Tenderizing meat risks pushing pathogens from the surface of the beef into the interior, where the little bastards can shelter from the searing heat that kills their unfortunate brethren on the surface. Thus tenderized cuts need to be cooked at higher temperatures for longer periods of time. So, to recap: filet mignon, probably OK. Any beef with "Cajun," "Teriyaki," "Mesquite," or "E. coli" in the name, proceed with caution. Our advice? Cook over high heat until the steak resembles a hockey puck, slather with A1, and serve.

3. Red Goopster.

Witness the Red Lobster menu of the future: dogfish baskets, tautog platters, and Cape Cod Blood Cockle Week. Catch limits went into effect May 1 in New England for popular species such as haddock, flounder, and cod and as a result, the "local culinary community is promoting cooking with so-called underutilized species" such as Blood Cockles, a local clam "filled with blood-red goop." We don't see Cockles catching on. There are only so many ways to prepare goop. Goop is still goop.

Tautogs have appeared on area menus as well. Tautogs, also known as black porgy, are homely creatures, with thick lips and rubbery skin coated with "heavy slime."

Maybe Tautog will sound better when battered and deep fried, but we doubt it. If you do brave the Tautog Platter and discover what looks like a human molar, don't be alarmed - those are just its teeth. Or the fry cook had a loose filling. Maybe both.

4. Baby Got Fatback.

You may start seeing higher prices for fatback soon. The USDA confirmed in May that porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) has been identified in the United States for the first time. First diagnosed in Great Britain in 1971, the disease eventually reached Asia, where it has become an endemic pig disease since 1982. Not to be confused with transmissible gastroenteritis (TGE) virus, with which with PEDV shares clinical symptoms, the virus has been decimating swine populations in at least 200 facilities in 15 states, as reported by the American Association of Swine Veterinarians.

The symptoms are, as you might imagine, unpleasant: infected pigs will vomit, defecate, and ultimately die of dehydration. Baby pigs are particularly susceptible, with mortality rates ranging from 80 to 100 percent. Officials are unclear how PEDV entered the U.S. and, according to the Iowa Pork Industry Center, which has published a helpful fact sheet, "testing capacity to detect PEDV is limited."

The National Pork Board would like you to know the following: PEDV poses no risk to humans or to food safety. Should you miss it in the first bullet point of the Pork Board's statement, the last bullet reiterates: "PEDV does not affect pork safety. Pork remains completely safe to eat."

The 1985 Pork Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act (also known simply as "the Pork Act"), established the National Pork Board, which directs research and marketing for the industry funded via a mandatory "checkoff program" requiring farmers to contribute $0.40 on every $100 whenever a hog is sold.

So dig in; the people who raise, sell and market pork want to make sure you know that absolutely nothing is wrong with your bacon.

5. World War Z.

An 84-year-old woman crashed into a suburban Chicago liquor store last Thursday, sparking a fire that ignited hundreds of liquor bottles and engulfed her BMW.

The car smashed through a glass wall, lodged between displays of Tanqueray and Smirnoff, and caught fire, which only seems fitting given Germany's historical penchant for torching (respectively) England and Russia.

Spotting the billowing smoke, hairstylist Nelo Piza rushed from nearby salon Via Venato to implore others to pull the driver from the car. Piza didn't plunge in himself, not wanting to get too close to the vehicle "because he wore sandals and there was broken glass everywhere." No one was seriously hurt in the incident. Piza was, suffice it to say, unharmed.

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on August 12, 2013


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