Thursday, June 7, 2012

Pork Shoulders and Butts

I've said it before and I'll say it again. One of my favorite things about living in France is the food. I love being able to buy fresh vegetables easily and eat them according to the season. I relish the simplicity of the food and people's respect for it and it's origins. I adore eating dishes in which I can taste each delicious ingredient. Today I ate a salad with fresh ingredients from the market down the street. Yesterday I made a leek quiche because leeks are plentiful right now. The day before I invented a simple dessert with the last of this year's strawberries. Of course, this can be done in the states, but truly, it is just so much easier here and much more a part of the culture.

That being said, I have publicly admitted before, and will again, that I love Spam. It's a treat I eat once or twice a year and I always have a can in reserve for the necessary moment. I don't know where I learned to love this canned, gelatin-entombed, square block of pork shoulder and sodium nitrate. Perhaps when I worked as a trail cook in Canada where I would serve Spam when we hadn't found anything to shoot for dinner that day. Or maybe it's because I grew up about 1/2 hour away from the Hormel factory in Austin, Minnesota where it's made. The reason for my amour is shrouded in jelly and mystery.

In my humble opinion, Spam can only be prepared ONE way; sliced, fried until crispy, and served on soft white bread with yellow mustard. It is not the same on a baguette with dijon mustard.  I know this, because I've tried it (yes, people bring me Spam here in France). Okay, and maybe it can be served with eggs.

Most likely because I've mentioned this before on this blog, an ad popped up on google page advertising a recipe for Spam Casserole. My curiosity took me to a page called Recipe Source where I found the following recipe.

  Categories: Main dish
       Yield: 8 servings
       1 pk Frozen french fry potatoes,
            -thawed (20 oz)
       2 c  Shredded Cheddar cheese
       2 c  Sour cream
       1 cn Condensed cream of chicken
            -soup (10 3/4 oz)
       1 cn SPAM Luncheon Meat, cubed
            -(12 oz)
     1/2 c  Chopped red bell pepper
     1/2 c  Chopped green onion
     1/2 c  Finely crushed corn flakes
   Heat oven to 350'F. In large bowl, combine potatoes, cheese, sour
   cream, and soup. Stir in SPAM, bell pepper, and green onion. Spoon
   into 13x9 baking dish. Sprinkle with crushed flakes. Bake 30-40
   minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Am I all wrong or did just reading this make you want to evacuate the contents of your stomach? Did it make the buttons pop on your skirt or the seam in your jeans split open? Do people REALLY eat this? Seriously, cheese AND sour cream AND cream-of-anything-soup? I just did a calorie count per serving and it was 597 calories and 46 grams of fat, providing you really divide this into 8 servings. And most Americans don't.

I'm not dissing one of my favorite treats. I really wanted to be the Spam Queen at one time until I found out the expiration date for this honor was a much younger age than I was imprinted with at the time. And I do have a full set of jewelry that my auntie made me out of Spam cans. And an alarm clock. And a toy Spam race car. And a tee-shirt. And framed old Spam advertising. And...

But I must insist that Spam cannot be eaten in this manner. Spam is pure. It needs to be eaten in simplicity with respect for it's origins (see first paragraph)... whatever they are! (actually you can find out here plus a whole lot more).  And none of this creamy, casserole business. After all, this fine food got an entire country through a world war.

This article is simply an expression of my outrage at such blasphemy.  In fact, the folks at Hormel have no idea that I exist. But if they wanted to crown me The Sovereign of Spam...The Priestess of Pork...the President of Potted Meat Products...The Hormel Ambassador to France, I would accept. Providing they gave me this to wear during my promotional trips. It would look great with my jewelry collection.

And I would travel the world promoting it's simplicity and handing out little Spam finger sandwiches. One can never be too old or too proud for a new career.



  1. I'll stick with your salads, thanks!
    Jeanmarie xoxo

    1. Chicken! Pork butt! I'll sneak some into your salad when you're here.

  2. Good ole Spam. That recipe reminded me of what we call cheesy potatoes here with the cheese and the sour cream and I think there's some sort of cream of ... soup. Maybe the spam casserole plus the cheesy potatoes: we could call it Midwestern heart attack

    1. Remember, I'm from the midwest too, Paulita. And I know of cheesy potatoes. I've never made them but I will eat them if they're offered. And actually, they are good!

  3. When my hubby and I were in college, I would bake spam as if it were a small ham. No adornment, just spam in a pan in the oven. We haven't had it for a long time. Maybe I will surprise him one evening?

    1. My mom tells me her mother used to score it, line those scores with cloves and glaze if pretending it was a real ham. So funny!

  4. We asked our 20 something exchange student's brother tour guide to take us to a typical Korean lunch counter last year in Seoul. The little restaurant looked like an older local McDonald's wanna' be, lots of Formica. It had an incredibly hot electric soup pot in the center of the table. We had menu item 3, "Army Soup". The server brought out a vat of broth and put it in the pot. When it was steaming hot she brought out a tray of veges and a combo plate of Spam and bolonga chunks. We added the stuff to our broth waited a few minutes til she brought the bowls and spoons. It was pretty dang tasty. Spam like many delicacies is an acquired taste. Glad I acquired it camping, not as rations from the American army when I was starving. I'm a once a year girl! The Koreans love it from what I understood.-s

    1. It's available, in another can, in many Asian markets. It's practically the national dish in Hawaii!

  5. I remember being stunned by a whole recipe book I found in the States that used cans and ready-prepared ingredients for every dish. That was 'cooking'. I was told that when you use fresh ingredients it's called 'cooking from scratch'. I've never got over that one. :)

    1. I know what you mean, Sarah. When I was young, almost everything came out of a can including vegetables. Church cookbooks are still famous for these recipes from the 50's and 60's because the only people that put there recipes in church cookbooks are ladies of a certain age. Which brings us to tater tot hotdish.

  6. Thanks for the recipe looks good to me. Maybe it's something having to do with folks who have or a living one half hour away from Austin.

  7. My arteries hardened as I read that recipe. Yikes! I think I've had Spam, ages ago, I can't really remember. Obviously I didn't have it prepared the right way or I'd never have forgotten!

  8. I have never tasted spam we never had it in Africa so far as i can remember. Diane

  9. I thought that Spam was a WWII staple, I didn't know that it is still produced or that people are eating it. Maybe I should open a can on one of my next trips to the States!

  10. My grandmother fed me a couple of spam sandwiches on white bread with yellow mustard when I was a little girl :)

  11. Spam fritters! Childhood bliss served by a friend's mother....

  12. Oh, Delana! I love you.
    (and spam too, shhhh)
    I call the duck rillettes duck spam. they really are kind of like it if you think about it. Or that Devilish potted meat we used to you've got me craving a fried bologna sandwich! dammit!
    aidan xo

  13. OMG this takes me back!

    My father loved SPAM and there was always an inventory of cans in the cupboard for . . . you know, just in case of a nuclear war or something.

    I didn’t inherit his appreciation for the fake meat but was always fascinated by the little key it came with, which made SPAM the most friendly product on the market for when you might find yourself lost in the woods for years on end without a can-opener.

  14. Hi Delana,
    I have been looking for your blog for several weeks now as I lost you several months ago & couldn't remember the name of your blog, just that I liked it. You're in my favourites now so won't lose you again. Am catching up with your older posts. BUT Spam - Like Fly in the Web, I can remember spam fritters or spam sandwiches being regularly served for tea in my house in the sixties & early seventies. The fritters were a real treat. Although I went off it after I ate so many spam sandwiches I made myself sick (did the same with sherry several years later). Parents of children born in the fifties in England didn't pay much attention to nutrition, hence I was practially raised on white processed bread as my mother said she had had enough of wholemeal bread during the war. It was considered by her as perfectly healthy & another treat was white bread toast topped with beef or lamb dripping sprinkled with salt, or toast dripping with butter - or more likely margerine. It was another world!
    I haven't thought about Spam for several decades, but I now have a hankering for it. As my arteries are probably a lost cause, think I'll risk it. :)

  15. I just found your blog and you are such an inspiration to me. One day I am going to pick up and head to France to live too. It has been a dream of mine for years. Right now though I am busy finishing up the restoration of my brownstone in Troy, New York. Once it is all done I want to enjoy it for a while. When I decide the time is ripe then I will head to France.

    I loved spam as a child. I fried it up crispy and put it on white bread with mustard just as you mentioned. Spam sandwiches were the best. I long ago stopped eating meat so more spam for me. Now I am vegan. I can still remember what spam tastes like though.


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