November 21, 2012: Chris and I were a little surprised to discover how popular SPAM is here, although I kind of had an inkling. I remember being in the Filipino section of the Fairway grocery store in Sidney not long after we were here last year, wondering why there was so much SPAM and vowing to look into it.
But I wasn’t quite prepared for the reality of it. The grocery store shelves here are just full of the stuff.
Most stores have large sections dedicated to canned meats. Corned beef. Vienna sausages. Chicken. Turkey. Hash. Chili. And the local favourite, Sisig (spicy ground pigs head and liver with lots of MSG). But the granddaddy of them all, Pure Gold, has one whole aisle, at least fifty feet long, full of canned meats from one end to the other. On both sides! And that’s not counting what’s stocked in the next aisle over…the canned fish aisle. Like Costco back home, this is warehouse style, so the shelves keep going up and up. And the largest section is…you guessed it…SPAM!
I asked one of the stockboys today at Pure Gold if he eats SPAM. “Yes, ma’am,” he replied proudly.
Was that just good product promotion on his part or true love of SPAM? Hard to know for sure. This may require more careful research and investigation over the coming weeks and months.
What I have learned so far is that this love affair with SPAM can be traced back to U.S. soldiers and their war rations, which included SPAM three times a day. From what I can understand, it seems the soldiers were pretty sick of the stuff and pawned a lot of it off on the locals during WWII. With meat hard to come by, it became very popular in many islands in the Pacific as a result. In tropical places from Hawaii to Guam to the Philippines where meat is hard to keep fresh and frozen meat is only just catching on, canned meat is obviously the way to go.
Every time I walk down the SPAM aisle, Monty Python’s infamous SPAM song plays over and over in my head. “SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, lovely SPAM, wonderful SPAM…” Try getting that to go away once it takes hold.
I honestly don’t remember ever eating SPAM in my life. My mom never bought it when I was a kid. Chris doesn’t remember it either. But seeing as how it has become something of a national treasure here, I may have to give it a whirl.
I could try something from the Green Midget Café’s SPAM menu. SPAM, eggs, SPAM, SPAM, bacon and SPAM anyone? Or maybe something a little more Filipino, like SPAMsilog (SPAM served with fried rice and fried eggs). Or something more gourmet off Hormel’s SPAM website, like Wonderful SPAM Wontons or Bacon Wrapped SPAM Bites or Huevos SPAMcheros. It is SPAM’s 75th anniversary this year, after all.
There are lots of flavours to keep things interesting. Classic. Hot & Spicy. Hickory Smoke. Low Sodium. SPAM Lite. With Cheese. With Bacon. Black Pepper. Jalapeño. Hawaiian. Garlic. Honey. There’s even Oven Roasted Turkey SPAM. Not quite sure how that works because SPAM is short for SPiced hAM. Turkey flavoured ham maybe???
Now, where to begin?
Nukaat says, “I’ll stick to Friskies, thank you very much!”