In the run-up to Super Bowl Sunday, millions of American football fans can rest assured: there is no looming shortage of their beloved chicken wings.
The National Chicken Council estimat
es that the nation will wolf down 1.23 billion chicken wings over Super Bowl weekend, or nearly four wings for each and every American.
But fears that restaurants, bars, fast food outlets and supermarkets will run out of the savory snack — served baked, fried or grilled, most often with ranch or barbecue sauce — are unfounded, the industry group said Thursday.
“There is sufficient frozen poultry in storage,” council spokesman Tom Super told AFP in an email, citing the latest data from the US Department of Agriculture.
“So no, there will be no wing shortage,” he said. “They might be a little more expensive, but there is and will be plenty to go around.”
Unprepared wings are retailing in Washington supermarkets this week for about $2.49 per pound.
Contributing to a rise in prices, there has been a one percent dip in chicken production in the past year, and corn and feed prices are at record highs.
“The Super Bowl is the second biggest eating holiday of the year, after Thanksgiving,” noted Charlie Morrison, president of Wingstop, a nationwide chain of more than 550 wings-dedicated franchise restaurants.
“With the growing demand for wings, we are gearing up for this to be our biggest year yet,” with more than six million wings sold, up 15 percent on last year, he said in a statement.
Considering recent bouts of digestive difficulties in our household, Joanie and I have scaled back on the more challenging foods, but we will make an exception for wings on Super Bowl Sunday. We found plenty on stock at Gross Out (Grocery Outlet).
So one less hurdle until the Big Game. I've been trying to get Joan in front of the chalkboard so I can give her a good Xs and Os before kickoff but she seems strangely disinterested.
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—but his reporting in the piece did leave some tiny room for doubt, and that margin of uncertainty, the implied what if that was central to his piece, provides a blueprint for how a rumor gains the gloss of truth.
Where did the legend of the backdoor calamari come from, and why has it only just emerged? The story started in the classic way, with an email from a stranger. Calhoun heard it from a fan of This American Life who wrote in to say that she had heard it from a guy who worked in pork production. When Calhoun followed up, the farmer told him that he'd learned about faux mollusk from a guy he knows who manages a meat-processing plant. That manager, for his part, told Calhoun that he was 95 percent sure the claim was true, though he admitted that he'd never seen the fakes himself—he only knew of them from the people that he worked for at the plant. And while no one at the plant had ever seen a rectum packaged as a squid, employees there confirmed that they had heard the story, too.
If you like calamari, feel free to read it all and reassure yourself.
It was one of those gloomy, rainy days here in Portland. I went over the post office a block over to mail a Christmas present to my daughter. Joan and I went downtown to the REI to buy some presents for her kids. There was another REI at the Clackamas Mall down the Interstate, and the parking would've been better down there, but who wants to do all that driving on a gloomy, rainy day?
On the way home I started getting peckish, so we went over to Podnah's Pit, a Texas-style barbeque place out on Killingsworth. No sooner had we sat down than police cars started zooming down the street. Police cars, undercover cars, SWAT armored vehicles. I commented to Joan that all the cops' cars made the place more authentic.
We had their ribs. Oh my! I think I've found my favorite rib place in Portland. And the menu looks great for their weekend brunches (hmmm, grits!). And Thursdays that have smoked lamb ribs. We've been to several other bbq places, but the ribs here were great. Lots of meat on the bones, cooked so the meat was moist and fell off the bone. They had a selection of different sauces at the table but, really, the ribs were fine without sauce. There was a Carolina vinegar sauce we both liked. The sides were good, and like most places in Portland, they had lots of different good beers.
We were stuffed and brought half of the ribs home in a doggy bag. Well, our dogs aren't gonna get these ribs. On the way home yet another police car zoomed past us.
So what was all the hullabaloo over? Someone dressed in camouflage, with a mask and body armor and an assault rifle, had gone to the Clackamas Mall, right next to the REI store we didn't go to, and began shooting. That's where all the cops cars were going. So far: two victims dead, another rushed to the closest trauma center. The shooter has been "neutralized".
Joan, her friend Linda and I went across the Columbia River to the Couv, Vancouver, last night to see the Gunnar Roads Band at the Brickhouse.
Liquor laws are different in these parts. When we got to the Brickhouse, a little after seven-thirty, the place was packed with families with babies, toddlers and pre-teens running around while their adults knocked down their beer and drinks and ate their burgers. When I was growing up back east you'd never see a kid in a drinking establishment. The Brickhouse even had a play area set up for kids. It was a massive, noisy, squealing cluster. The couple in the both near us were apparently into their cups because the father had the ketchup bottle and was squirting it into his kid's mouth and on the kid's head.
When they left we slid into the booth and got another pitcher of beer and burgers all around. There was a mass exodus of parents and children, the kids' play area was converted into the bandstand, and the band started setting up.
I have to say that I'm just not used to drinking a lot of beer. I should be attached to a waterwheel. The stuff just flows through me.
Gunnar is the son of a friend of Linda's. He plays the guitar, very well, in a three-piece outfit (with a bassist-vocalist and drummer). Linda said they played a kind of blues-rock, and they did. They reminded me at times of Cream and The James Gang. They had a pretty noisy following. Lots of original material, couldn't really hear the lyrics, plus some tasty covers. They closed with a great version of Hendrix' "Fire".