Let Them Eat SPAM
The SPAMERICAN TOUR is making its way across the country, city to city as a celebratory lap for the iconic canned meat brand. SPAM has teamed up with Chef Sunny Anderson, of Food Network, who will be sharing signature dishes along with several local chefs from 12 cities. This year SPAM is celebrating its 78th birthday. Founded in 1937 by the Hormel Foods Corporation, SPAM was the answer for delivering protein across the seas to American G.I’s and allied forces. Hormel distinguished itself from other brands by creating its product using quality cuts of pork shoulder.
Russian president Nikita Kruschev was quoted saying “Without SPAM, we wouldn’t have been able to feed our army.” In the 1980’s British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher warmly referred to SPAM as a “wartime delicacy.”
SPAM was introduced to Guam, Hawaii, Okinawa and the Philippines where it remains popular to this day. It is consumed regularly in over 40 countries.
RANDOM FACT: Every hour, 44,000 cans are produced worldwide (the equivalent of 33,000 pounds).
Now we get to the fun stuff: The SPAMERICA Tour kicks off at Hip Cooks in Culver City. I must admit, I was a SPAM virgin so tonight’s menu would be anything but the norm for me. My first bite of SPAM was in the form of a jack cheese and pretzel sandwich created by Chef Kevin Hickey. The bread was soft in the middle, cheese gushing with the delicate flavor of mustard and diced pickle complimented the meat very well; after the first bite I was hooked and ready to try more. Next up was the Spam infused old fashioned, I know it sounds strange but it was delicious. A cube of the canned meet was blackened and put on a skewer with a sweet maraschino cherry, giving the bourbon a slightly smoky and savory flavor. A great compliment to the classic American Cocktail, the marriage of SPAM and bourbon was a success.
My favorite creation of the night was Chef Sunny Anderson’s Coconut SPAM Spears with Spicy Pineapple Chutney. The most elegant pairing of SPAM I have ever seen in my life. Chef Sunny lives up to her name with a cheery disposition and a warm smile, she laughingly talked us through her recipe. With a few fresh ingredients, in about 5 minutes she created one of the best Chutneys I had ever tasted and gave me a new found respect for the versatility of SPAM (really cant use that word enough … SPAM SPAM SPAM). Her recipe for tempura batter with coconut and lemon zest was fragrant, sweet, very light and flaky. It’s an appetizer fit for any occasion and the Pineapple Chutney was so easy to make, the entire recipe took only 15 minutes.
The beautiful Chef Katie Chin taught us how to Roll SPAM Musubi. A very popular Hawaiian dish, it is fried SPAM served over rice and wrapped in Nori. Per capita Hawaiians consume the most SPAM in the U.S, its even referred to sometimes as “Hawaiian Steak”. What began as a canned good has become an important Americana staple. SPAM has rich history, at one time when the world was at war it was a symbol of hardship and perseverance. SPAM even developed a mascot in the 1940’s “Slammin’ Spammy” a no nonsense machine gun toting, bomb chucking pig, he was printed on shirts and even painted on planes. Artists had their “salad days” and the world had its, “SPAM Period”.
The “SPAMERICAN TOUR” celebrates this product’s rich history and teaches us new ways to enjoy it. From the beaches of Normandy to an upscale foodtruck coming your way soon; everyone should try SPAM.
Sources for SPAM Research