Categories
musings OMG SPAM

Desperate Times Renew Demand for SPAM

I don’t post about it much, but SPAM is treated with reverence at inuyaki.com. “SPAM is good food” is still the default tagline for most of my online profiles and my Yelp avatar was a SPAM can before I started using the Inuyaki dog logo. I even wore a SPAM T-shirt to Slow Food Nation in San Francisco earlier this year.

SPAM ShrineOur personal SPAM shrine.

As the economy worsens in the U.S., Hormel looks like it will be one of the few companies that weather the storm as American demand for SPAM increases. SPAM sales are on the rise as Americans look for alternatives to more expensive cuts of meat.

From today’s New York Times:

Spam “seems to do well when hard times hit,” said Dan Bartel, business agent for the union local. “We’ll probably see Spam lines instead of soup lines.”

Even as consumers are cutting back on all sorts of goods, Spam is among a select group of thrifty grocery items that are selling steadily.

If you don’t know the history of SPAM, this passage breaks it down succinctly.

Spam holds a special place in America’s culinary history, both as a source of humor and of cheap protein during hard times.

Invented during the Great Depression by Jay Hormel, the son of the company’s founder, Spam is a combination of ham, pork, sugar, salt, water, potato starch and a “hint” of sodium nitrate “to help Spam keep its gorgeous pink color,” according to Hormel’s SPAM Web site.

Because it is vacuum-sealed in a can and does not require refrigeration, Spam can last for years. Hormel says “it’s like meat with a pause button.”

During World War II, Spam became a staple for Allied troops overseas. They introduced it to local residents, and it remains popular in many parts of the world where the troops were stationed.

Thanks to the U.S. military, Filipinos have a long history of SPAM consumption, as well as canned corned beef and Vienna sausages, all of which I ate regularly as a child. But as I got older and tried to be “healthier” (whatever that means, haha), SPAM faded from my consciousness, although I do remember being introduced to SPAM musubi when I was in college.

About six years ago, SPAM reentered my life when I started working with a bunch of guys from Hawaii, where SPAM consumption is the highest per capita than anywhere else in the world. Then I met my my future wife, who is also from Hawaii, and SPAM became part of my life again.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t eat SPAM regularly—that would be crazy. But I don’t fear SPAM (like Bizarre Foods’ Andrew Zimmern), and there’s a sense of comfort that arises from a bowl of SPAM fried rice or a plate of SPAM and eggs that can’t be duplicated by anything else.

SPAM and EggsBreakfast of Champions, although I probably ate this for dinner. :)

I’m glad that SPAM is experience a renaissance, but it would be nicer if it wasn’t because of such dire circumstances. Maybe the economic downturn will help people truly appreciate SPAM instead of loathing it.

Categories
entertainment OMG Thomas Keller

Student Challenges Master in Achatz/Keller Showdown

From The New York Times:

Columbus Circle will be the center of the culinary universe for a few hours tonight as two of the country’s most acclaimed chefs—those without my Timesian fear of hyperbole might just go ahead and say “the country’s two most acclaimed chefs”—collaborate on a 20-course, $1500 dinner at Per Se.

Thomas Keller and Grant Achatz are the chefs in question, and tonight’s meal is the first of three they will be cooking side by side. The next will take place on Dec. 2 at Mr. Achatz’s home kitchen, Alinea in Chicago; Mr. Keller gets home-kitchen advantage for the final meal on Dec. 9 at the French Laundry in Yountville, Calif.

Keller v. Achatz(Photos: Nicholas Roberts/Reuters, Peter Thompson/The New York Times)

Michael Ruhlman gives a great analysis of what this matchup means for both chefs:

“Grant estimated that if you got to the source of 90 percent of what he did, its source would be the French Laundry,” said Michael Ruhlman, who wrote “The French Laundry Cookbook” and the introduction to “Alinea.” Mr. Ruhlman met Grant in his first year working at the French Laundry; following both chefs over the year, he’s watched their relationship from a front row seat. “And I’ve always believed that the rigorous technique embraced while at the FL is the main reason he’s been able succeed at the relentlessly innovative cuisine he’s set out to do every night. He knows it, Thomas knows it, and they’re both grateful.”

Is there more to it than that? Is there, lurking beneath the mutual support and praise, a competitive streak? How often do the two chefs check to see who is winning this Amazon Meter?

“It’s probably more complicated from Grant’s perspective,” said Mr. Ruhlman. “Talk about the anxiety of influence, the need to slay the father. Keller looms so tall in this industry, I’m sure he does all he can to stay out of its shadow without alienating the friend and mentor to whom he owes so much.”

Of course, the anxiety can work both ways. “How did Thomas feel when Gourmet named Alinea best restaurant in the country?” Mr. Ruhlman asks. “How could Keller not feel competitive about this? All chefs are alpha dogs.”

My first reaction when I read this was a Keanu/Neo-like “Whoa,” especially for a dinner costing $1500. I honestly hope some of that money goes to a charity of some kind, but this match up is like the Super Bowl of cooking, and we all know how much Super Bowl tickets cost.

At least at this event, the food won’t suck, and it’s guaranteed to be a good game.

Categories
bacon OMG recipes sandwiches

Peanut Butter and Bacon Sandwich

When my group leader at work told me that she made it through college by eating peanut butter and bacon sandwiches, I was immediately intrigued.


Peanut Butter and Bacon sandwich

My version was made with Niman Ranch bacon and some Trader Joe’s organic crunchy peanut butter. It was really good, but I really want to try this with some creamy Skippy….you know, for that true “after-school snack” vibe.

Categories
musings OMG sandwiches

Canned Horror (a.k.a Cheeseburger in a Can)

Some of you might remember my previous post on the infamous Cheeseburger in a Can. They’re sold by a company in Germany, and they weren’t taking direct orders directly from America. A couple months ago, my wife told me she had a friend in Germany that could order this oddity for us. I asked for two cans, and they arrived earlier this week. Why two cans? One was for our collection of weird food, and one was…to eat.

Here’s how the product looks according to the Trekking Malhzeiten Online Store:


cheeseburger in a can

Looks appetizing, right?

Did the actual canned cheeseburger possibly resemble that picture? Not even close.

Categories
bacon musings OMG

Oh, Hell No: Vol. 2…

Canned bacon isn’t nearly as disturbing as the Cheeseburger in a Can, but it seems just as pointless. I mean, how could this be better than picking up some fresh bacon from the store?


Canned Bacon

According to canned-bacon.com, Celebrity Foods released this product in Hungary almost 20 years ago, and it was discontinued by K-Mart in the United States around 10 years ago. They also have a 20-year-old can of their own that they decided to open so they can duplicate the concept for a new product they’re developing.

We’ve tried other forms of packaged, pre-cooked bacon, and they’ve been good, but not better than freshly fried bacon. I’m not really sure if I’d give canned bacon a try, especially if it’s 20 years old, but there is room for it on our shelf next to the SPAM.

Categories
beef musings OMG

Oh, Hell No…


Cheeseburger in a can...

I saw this posted on Gizmodo, and while I’m definitely repulsed by the concept of a canned cheeseburger, my hyperactive sense of morbid curiosity wants to try it.

I mean, I eat SPAM…how could this be any worse?

I don’t think Americans can order the Cheeseburger in der Dose directly, so you might need to hit up your European friends to get your hands on this.

UPDATE:
I think my cousin in Munich is going to try and send a couple cans… STAY TUNED! :-)