Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Spam, glorious Spam!


Reporting on signs of the current economically troubling times, the NYT Spam Turns Serious and Hormel Turns Out More article looked to the Austin, MN, company's booming production line.

"In a factory that abuts Interstate 90, two shifts of workers have been making Spam seven days a week since July, and they have been told that the relentless work schedule will continue indefinitely."

Spam (the meat product, not the virtual junk mail) is one of those products that consumers turn to when times are tough. The article also mentions staples such as rice and beans showing a significant uptick.

The nation need only look to the 50th state, birthplace of the soon-to-be 44th President of the United States, to embrace all that is Spam. Monty Python may like ham and jam and Spamalot but Hawaii residents consume roughly five million pounds a year, an average of approximately six cans of Spam for every islander.

Spam in all of its' glorious preparations, from the pedestrian to the gourmet, is perhaps most iconic as the Spam musubi. This blending of Midwest sensibility with the Zen-like simplicity of salty rice and seaweed is ubiquitous in the islands, showing up daily not just in front of hungry kids at home, but also sold in groceries, coffee shops, fast food joints and even gas stations. Here in the land of the land of lattes, espresso, from the sublime to the putrid, is availabe on every corner. In Hawaii, Spam is what greases the wheels of everyday life. The breakfast of champions? Eggs, rice and Spam with a cup of Kona coffee, please.

In Hawaii, Spam is also four-letter word for home. Your mom (or titah or sistah) fried Spam in a shoyu sauce and laid it on a compressed block of hot rice and wrapped a strip of nori around it. (It was funny to see this form of spam musubi actually offered on the menu of a restaurant happy hour here.) And then your family would go out to spend the day at the beach swimming or body surfing or digging into the shoreline to search for sand crabs. When you were hungry, you came back to the home-base beach blankets and chomped down on those Spam musubi. What more could you ask for as a kid on a beach in Hawaii?

How serious are islanders about their processed meats? Take a look at the Tasty Island's in-depth study: Tulip vs. Treet vs. Spam Musubi Showdown!

photo: L.A.Times - Hawaiian Specialties

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