It’s summer time, you’re ready for the beach, no doubt you’ve packed your sandals, T-shirt, shorts, beach ball and a cool bag for snacks. That’s what we did, expect all of our’s were branded by SPAM. I’m not joking.
Our choice of beach accessories isn’t however driven by hipster irony but by SPAM’s marketing department who are attempting to break into the camping market. Historically, this isn’t such as bad idea given that SPAM was the main staple for millions of allied troops in the second world war who were given it as part of their ration packs. Russia’s Nikita Kruschev once said that “Without SPAM, we wouldn’t have been able to feed the army”.
For camper and soldier alike, SPAM at least on paper, has a number of benefits; it’s hermetically sealed, it doesn’t need to be refrigerated, it’s versatile and it contains lots of protein, all perfect for long car trips or post nuclear survival.
Despite all this, SPAM, which is apparently derived from “shoulder of pork and ham” has been the punchline of many jokes across the years from Monty Python to VIZ. It’s easy to see why too, in SPAM’s “SPAM : The Cook Book”, there are twenty pages of SPAM facts and propaganda before you reach the actual recipes. Perhaps my favourite is the SPAM caesar salad. It’s a chicken caesar salad but with SPAM instead of chicken. Other recipes include saffron, sherry and Gruyere. Presumably if you’re spending money on “the most expensive spice in the world”, then perhaps there are better meat accompaniments than SPAM. It’s hard to decide whether this is tongue in cheek or not. The author, Marguerite Patten is either a comedy genius or in need of urgent mental health treatment.
Regardless, at Outdoor Enthusiasts, we don’t judge, we test. Then judge, actually. So without further ado here are the results of eating a week of SPAMtastic (not my words) recipe ideas :
Deep SPAM pizza : It’s a pizza, with SPAM. Apparently variations include mushrooms or green pepper slices with more SPAM. We however went for the traditional deep SPAM, with, you guessed it, cheese and SPAM. The page also tells us that the ladies who were employed to sing SPAM songs, were known as the SPAMMETTES. Just don’t look that up in the VIZ profanisaurus for goodness sake.
SPAM Pate : Actually, this one is pretty good and I can see it being used on a camping trip. Very few ingredients though presumably most campers will be leaving out the sherry. It’s easy to knock up after a hard day’s walking and tastes much better than you might think.
Pennywise Paella : Another sensible suggestion actually. To make this, all you need is the SPAM and a bit of rice plus whatever veg you can lay your hands on. Perfect for multi day trips away from shops. This page tells me that saffron is the most expensive spice in the words and comes from the crocus. Unlike SPAM which is the cheapest meat in the world and comes from pigs shoulders. Not eyelids where I originally thought. Credit where credit is due.
Pork Stir Fry: After a nearly a week of eating SPAM based camping foods I have almost totally overcome my aversion to the “meat”. Again, SPAM stir fry is another sensible camp meal that could use dried noodles, a packet sauce and of course the trusty SPAM.
Hawaiian Pork : Apparently, the Hawaiians are keener on SPAM than any other nation. There are no statistics to back this up but there you have it. The stir fry is like a vegetable stir fry, but with SPAM.
OK, It was a working week of SPAM based meals. Five days of SPAM based nutrition is enough for any body, it’s not 1948 after all. On balance, the SPAM products are good for multi day hikes where shops aren’t available, but then, so are RTE meals, which are often tastier and lighter, if not more expensive. For the budget hiker SPAM is a sensible staple which will not spoil in a ruck sack and not take up too much room, but as a dinner table ingredient?
Perhaps that’s just down to personal taste, but I personally, will be changing the settings on my SPAM filter.