Squid’s American dream
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Squid’s American dream
Although squid was a common cuisine for Asia and the Mediterranean, it has only recently gained widespread popularity around the world.
Squid’s American dream
In the USA squid was not considered to be the fishing target, so it was either thrown back into the ocean or used as bait. In 1970s overfishing of cod and menhaden led to the depletion of their stocks in the Atlantic. Hence, there was a need to shift the attention of consumers and find a replacement for these popular coastal fish. As the US government and environmentalists were looking for an alternative they have come across a vast population of squid and decided to promote it instead.

Exotic twist

In order to reach the goal, government and business had to combine their efforts and introduce the new dish to American consumers, who generally considered squid quite off-putting. Then one business school student named Paul Kalikstein came up with the brilliant idea and suggested to start frying breaded squid like onion rings. The new dish was re-named as “calamari”, more exotic version of squid, and quickly gained immense popularity in the USA.

Squid around the world

Kalamar tava is a traditional Türkiye appetizer, where squid is cut into thick rings breaded and fried. It is usually flavored with herbs and pepper and served with tarator sauce and lemon. In Spain calamari a la romana consists of battered and fried squid rings. Greeks enjoy kalamari gemisto, where the squid is stuffed with a mixture of rice, tomatoes, herbs, and even seafood, before being baked or grilled.

Squid also plays a significant role in the culinary traditions of Latin America. In Peru, ceviche de calamar features raw squid marinated in lime juice, chili peppers, and is served with onions and other vegetables. In Mexico, squid is incorporated into tacos and other street food, providing a deliciously chewy texture and a slightly sweet flavor.

When speaking of squid, you can’t ignore its importance for East Asian cuisine. In China squid is deep-fried with potato flour and Sichuan spices. In Japan, squid is dried and grilled (ikayaki), and even considered one of spring’s delicacy (firefly squid). In Korea, squid is fried with red pepper paste and vegetables (ojino jeyuk bokkeum).

In Australia and New Zealand, it is often used as a substitute for pollock and cod to make fish and chips.

Overall, the global journey of squid from a regional specialty to an international favorite showcases the adaptability of culinary traditions and the ever-evolving nature of food preferences. Squid is finding its way onto dinner tables all across the world as more people fall in love with its deliciousness and health benefits, proving how even the most ordinary things may become worldwide hits.
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