Saturday, September 13, 2008

South Korea: Spam Spam Spam Spam

Koreans, hungry during the hard times of the Korean War in the 1950's, developed a taste for a common American foodstuff eaten by GI's: Spam.

The U.S. military introduced nonperishable, easily portable Spam to Korea during the Korean War, when many people were starving, said Kim Jong-su, a history professor at Kunsan National University.

During the lean post-war years, when most Koreans survived on barley, and even fat and white rice were scarce, people considered American foods like Spam a luxury.

"I still remembered the first moment I ate Spam," said Kim, now 50. "My relatives brought it home from a U.S. military base when I was an elementary school student. It was a shock — too delicious to describe."

These days, still popular with the South Korean populace, it's even sold in packaging for use as gifts.

Travel writer/novelist Paul Theroux in his book The Happy Isles of Oceania noted that natives in the old cannibal islands of Fiji and other places visited by the US during WWII also had a fondness for Spam.

Ah, well, at least it's not Soylent Green. Yet.

update forgot this; it's traditional.


Anonymous said...

You and I read the same books. Probably because I lived in London for four years, in the Navy.

The reason the islanders like Spam, notes Theroux, is that it tastes closer to "long pork".


Ketchup, mustard, and horseradish can't make it any more edible, to me.

Bob said...

Believe it or not, I can't recall ever eating spam.


Lokki said...

My wife is Japanese. Although she's lived in the States for quite a few years now, she'd never heard of Spam until she made the acquaintance of lady from Guam, and - at the same party - a lady from Kentucky. They were shocked that she'd never even heard of the stuff.

She came home with a can of it, and asked me why I'd never bought any for her.

I told her that I'd worked very hard so that she'd never have to eat Spam.

She asked, "Does it taste bad?"

I had to answer honestly, that - well, it actually tastes pretty good. Fried Spam and eggs.... not bad!

Then she asked, "What's it made from?"

Ahhhhh! That's the question. And I never really could answer it.

We still have that unopened can, somewhere.

Bob said...

Lokki: Wikipedia has a good explanation of where the name came from. I'd guess it's safe to eat, although your own can might not be, if it has passed its expiration date.

I'm still waiting for a food manufacturer to start selling Soylent Green, if that name isn't trademarked by the movie corporation that owns the rights to it.