The kids have gone back to school. The summer visitors have gone home. Our beaches are deserted and we can navigate Alister Street without having to dodge golf carts and jaywalking tourists. Summer is if not officially over, effectively over.
However, hurricane season is still in force. Thus far in 2012 we haven’t had that many storms come into the Gulf. Nevertheless we can’t relax our vigil. Hurricane season lasts officially until November 30, and the months of August and September are most active for us along the Gulf Coast. So I still have my hurricane preparedness kit at the ready: spare batteries, gallons of drinking water, candles and matches, instant coffee, a can of SPAM.
Every hurricane season I dutifully buy the recommended SPAM, although I’ve never known what it’s for. Maybe if a wind-propelled flying two-by-four happens to punch a hole in the wall, I’m to use a can of SPAM to plug it up? Perhaps I’m to make a line of SPAM cans into a levee to keep high water from seeping under the door? In any case, at the end of hurricane season, I give away my unused SPAM to the food pantry.
Until now. When Hurricane Isaac was threatening the Gulf States, the subject of hurricane preparedness came up in conversation.
“Not to worry,” I said. “I have all the required supplies, including a can of SPAM.”
“You have SPAM in the house?” came the reply. “I love SPAM! Let’s eat!”
Eat? You’re supposed to eat it? Apparently so. Here are two ways to enjoy SPAM, courtesy of Sir SPAMalot.
SPAMbled Eggs (for two)
You will need: a can of SPAM, four eggs, an onion, butter, milk, ground mustard, salt and pepper. Dice four slices of SPAM and half an onion. Melt a tablespoon of butter in a skillet. Brown the diced SPAM and onion in the butter. Beat the four eggs. Add a quarter of a teaspoon ground mustard, a splash of milk and salt and pepper to taste. Microwave the egg mixture for two minutes on HIGH. Fluff up the eggs and mix in the SPAM and onions. Serve.
SPAMwich (for one)
You will need: a slice of SPAM, two slices of bread (white, wheat or oat bread are fine but don’t use strong-flavored bread like rye or raisin). Put the slice of SPAM between the two slices of bread. Serve.
Here are some tasty tidbits of SPAM lore to enjoy while you munch:
SPAM is made by the Hormel Foods Corporation. First introduced in 1937, it’s canned precooked meat: The name is a combination of the words “spice” and “ham.” The labeled ingredients in the classic variety of SPAM are chopped pork shoulder meat, with ham meat added, salt, water, a binder and a preservative. The little bit of glaze in the can forms when the meat stock cools.
At the end of World War II, Hormel Foods assembled a troupe of ex-G.I. women to promote the consumption of SPAM as “patriotic.” The Hormel Girls grew to a troupe of 60 women including a 16-piece orchestra. They had a radio show.
Also during the Second World War, SPAM became popular in the United Kingdom, largely due to food rationing. A factory in Liverpool was licensed to produce SPAM which previously had all been made in Minnesota and Nebraska.
Residents of the state of Hawaii, the territories of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands consume the most SPAM per person in the U.S. Fast food restaurants there have SPAM on the menu.
In Minnesota, there is a restaurant where the menu is devoted exclusively to SPAM. In 1970, the British comedy show “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” included a sketch wherein SPAM was an ingredient in every dish offered in a café. The sketch gave rise to the use of the name SPAM to describe ubiquitous, unavoidable and undesirable electronic communications.
If you need some SPAM for breakfast or a SPAMwich or any of the numerous recipes that you can find on www.spam.com (SPAM Musubi, anyone?) or just for your hurricane preparedness kit, you can find it at the supermarket in several flavors including low sodium, spicy, lite, hickory smoke, oven-roasted turkey, bacon and cheese. It’s available as a spread and in single-serving packs.