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.