Is There Any Difference Between Squid And Calamari?

In short, there is no actual difference between calamari and squid. Calamari is the Italian word for squid, and the term stuck around in English-speaking countries. In the U.S., we often think of calamari fritti, or fried squid. These golden rings of calamari are served in a plethora of American restaurants, or any seafood restaurant in Western countries for that matter. However, calamari wasn't always as common an appetizer as chicken wings and stuffed mushrooms. In fact, there were lots of invisible forces at play to make the term synonymous with "squid." We can credit its popularity to the collaborative work between fishermen and agricultural groups.

If you see calamari on an American menu, it is highly likely that it is calamari fritti, deep-fried squid rings. Squid, on the other hand, tends to be more versatile in meaning. After all, it is simply the name of the animal itself, so any preparation of squid can be called squid. Asian countries usually refer to any squid dish as such and even use the term "deep-fried squid" rather than calamari. But why did the name Italian name for squid stick around in the English-speaking world?

Calamari is alluring, squid is... odd

Squid was initially used as fishing bait in the US and discarded back into the sea. The production of more familiar fish like cod and haddock was limited by legislation during the 1970s, thus paving the way for the beloved crispy appetizer known as calamari. The scarcity of cod meant that restaurant owners and fishermen had to start finding fishy alternatives to serve. Squid was already a big dish in the Mediterranean, particularly in Italy, where they sliced the head into rings and deep fried them in a batter. What other way to introduce a new catch than to serve it deep fried, masked with lemon juice and refreshing parsley? Plus, there's the suite of dipping sauces frequently paired with calamari, from aioli and hot sauce to ketchup and cocktail sauce.

Fishermen and restaurant owners felt that the word "squid" would evoke disgust in the general public, so they decided to use its Italian name: calamari. Italian food in America was becoming increasingly popular during the '60s and '70s, and the Italian name for squid served to make the dish more enticing to American restaurant patrons. Squid has long been a common dish in Asian countries, particularly in Japan and Korea, where the word for squid is used over calamari without any problems. The versatility of the ingredient has not yet been discovered in the States, but some have predicted that there will be more squid served in restaurants in the years to come.