If I ever get to request my last meal, without hesitating, I will ask for a big bowl of Kraft macaroni and cheese filled with Spam and corn- the most delicious and comforting food I know. A friend recently shared some fascinating history about Spam consumption around the world. Its public perception and value is so culturally varied. In the U.S. (excluding Hawaii), although eaten in many households, it is seen as a food of last resort and a symbol of hardship. Globally, its success is due to wartime rationing and the logistics of food procurement.
In South Korea, Spam is a mythical luxury. My friend has spent some time in Seoul and was served Spam as a delicacy in many homes. She told me that during the war, when people were starving, they would scavenge for food in the dumpsters outside of military bases. Finding Spam was like discovering gold. Due to Spam's heavily preserved nature, it still tastes good even when left out. Today, even though South Korea has a tremendously prosperous economy, a beautifully wrapped box of Spam is the gift to get during the holidays. There are so many ways to prepare this quivering pink block. It is a humble product that lends itself to transformation. Every culture has found unique and special ways to prepare it. My own repertoire includes quesadillas, carbonara, spamburgers, spam and eggs, and with mac and cheese.
I find it fascinating that this simple food has so much polarizing meaning and value around the world. If you have never had the pleasure, try it!