In praise of Spam

I took these photos on last Sunday’s grocery shopping trip.

I had no idea that Bacon Spam existed! Clearly I’m behind on the advances in canned meat.

If you’re familiar with my cooking photo posts — that’s largely what my Instagram account is about — you could be forgiven for thinking that I’m being sarcastic about having so much Spam choice. But you’d be wrong.

I used to be teased by ignorant white friends at Crazy Go Nuts University about my love for Spam, but they didn’t believe me when I told them that it was practically a staple in the Philippines — they just thought it was a misguided attempt at being more of a banana, twinkie, or coconut (“yellow/brown on the outside, white on the inside”) because I didn’t fit their “Long Duk Dong” expectation of what an Asian was supposed to be.

In fact, Spam is the key ingredient in a lot of Asian/Pacific island dishes, including Spam musubi (sometimes mistakenly referred to as Spam sushi, but if the rice isn’t vinegared, it ain’t sushi)…

…and Spam fried rice, which treats Spam as a softer, more easily sliced version of Chinese sausage:

Korean cuisine has budae jjigae, “army base stew”, a recipe created at the end of the Korean War that used scraps of food from U.S. Army bases, which included hot dogs, instant noodles, and of course, Spam (an old Army joke describes the low-grade version of Spam they were served as “ham that couldn’t pass its physical”):

Hormel has made a special Filipino spam flavor: tocino, which is sweet cured pork that’s kind of like Chinese char siu...

…and it’s one of a number of flavors:

And yes, you can get this on Amazon!

And finally, there’s Hawaiian breakfast: eggs, rice, and Spam:

It’s so quintessentially Hawaiian that it’s offered there as a breakfast option (and as a side order, just like the fries) at McDonald’s…

…and Burger King as well:

In Korea, Spam is so beloved that you can get it in gift sets…

Click the photo to see the Spammy goodness at full size.

…and just last year, Canadian-Korean K-pop star Jeon So Mi became the Spam spokemodel:

Further reading

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