The very word “Spam” can send shivers up the spine of anyone with a discriminating palate. Gelatinous, highly processed, and nearly immortal, it’s the laughingstock of all meats. It might well rank dead last in a chef’s list of appealing ingredients.
But in these hard times, Spam is making a comeback.
As economic realities settle in, consumers increasingly turn to budget fare—rice, beans, and Campbell’s soup—to fill their pantries. And the much-maligned Spam just might be the ultimate recession fare. High in protein, long-lasting, and under three dollars for a meat-filled tub, cans are flying off the shelves, as the New York Times reports
. And not just into cash-strapped kitchen cabinets.
Indeed, Spam does turn up on restaurant menus, much as most culinary professionals might cringe to hear it. In Hawaii, which has adopted Spam as a state favorite, the canned meat takes on a onigri
-like form in the musubi
, where a small mound of rice is topped with Spam and wrapped in nori. The ubiquitous “plate lunch,” two scoops of rice and generally one of macaroni salad, includes a protein that might be salmon teriyaki, Philippine-style roast pork… or a slab of Spam. Other preparations might include Spam chowder, wontons, or even “Spam Foo Young.” And back on the mainland, slabs of Spam appear in omelets and on Eggs Benedict, or in Korean-style preparations with white rice.
What’s bad for the economy is bad for the restaurant industry… but good for the makers of Spam. In today’s tough financial climate, will more restaurants overcome their fear of Spam? Time will tell.