I am not ashamed to admit that before last week I had never eaten SPAM before. It wasn’t something my mom ever served when I was a kid and during my starving college years I was a vegetarian. But, I do know SPAM has a cult following and with a SPAM-loving friend about to end his visit to Canada from Peru (where SPAM is apparently not available, though guinea pigs on a stick are) I decided to make some for dinner the other night. And it was actually pretty tasty.
If you’ve also managed to escape SPAM, it’s a processed meat product that was introduced to the world in 1937 by the Hormel Foods Corporation. It’s essentially pork shoulder, made shelf stable and slightly gelatinous with salt, sugar, potato starch, and sodium nitrate. Over the years, SPAM has been available in a number of flavours, ranging from Chorizo SPAM to Hickory Smoke SPAM to truly revolting looking “SPAM Meals” with scalloped potatoes or Red Beans and Rice. The classic variety can be eaten hot or cold, but if you eat it directly out of the can you will probably feel like you’re eating dog food.
SPAM has gotten its fair share of celebration in the world of music. In May, there’s the SPAM Jam festival in Hawaii, featuring stages manned by a variety of Hawaiian musicians. There’s the Monty Pyton SPAM song/skit, which is more comedy than music, I suppose:
Sticking with comedy, Weird Al’s “SPAM,” set to the tune of R.E.M.’s “Stand”:
Save Ferris’ ska ode to SPAM:
A hip-hop fusion band from Miami called the Spam Allstars:
I do have a SPAM cookbook in my collection (who doesn’t?) which is full of things like SPAM pate, chicken courdon bleu stuffed with SPAM, SPAM quiche… but I decided to go simpler and let the SPAM’s ahem, natural flavours shine. So I cut it into cubes, threaded it on skewers with sliced peppers, and brushed just a little bit of barbeque sauce on the SPAM cubes (try some homemade bbq sauce!).
And it was good. I can’t see adding SPAM to the regular rotation (I gave the extra can I bought to my friend to take back to Peru), but if I come across a SPAM taco or something at a food truck I may be inclined to order it. Any other SPAM fans out there? What’s your favourite way to eat it?