Back in 2014 something called spice ham, or as it more popularly known as, Spam, saw an odd wave of acceptance in culinary communities. What started off as ‘food’ rations for the troops during WWII (when you damn well ate what you could, when you could) has had a storied 80-year-long journey as equal parts sustenance and joke punchline. But while food oddities of the 1970s and ’80s such as Ring-Around-the-Tuna (olives, onion, Jell-O and tuna, anyone?) or ham and banana hollandaise (hamanadaise?) might have a historic, watered-down link to Medieval times when foods were combined to simply look impressive regardless of taste, Spam has become timeless in its ability to just…be.
On paper, Spam’s simple ingredient list reads like a canned heart attack waiting to be unleashed; salt, sodium nitrate, potato starch, sugar, water and of course, pork. Since its inception in 1937, eight billion cans of the stuff has been sold worldwide in 44 different countries. And you know every one of those countries has its share of adventurous eaters who have managed to make Spam the key ingredient in bizarre-O dishes served to millions. Now, Spam isn’t always about eating on a budget – if you want to try Spam fried rice or Spam angolotti, be prepared to pay premium dollar for it. Or stick with the basics that have survived generations and fry yourself up a Spamwich topped with mayo and pickles. Just make sure you serve it on whole wheat – that white bread will kill you.
Story by Jay Moon