From the Bellingham Herald.com:
BLUE RIBBON RECIPE WEEK: MUG O’ SPAM
The Kansas State Fair is one of many that has just concluded, and we were able to get copies of several blue ribbon-winning recipes. We’ll share them this week.
This was the winner of the Great American SPAM Championship. It was submitted by Heather Britain of South Hutchinson.
1 can (12 oz.) SPAM Classic, shredded
1 cup Rice Krispies cereal
1 tablespoon onion, minced
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
3 tablespoons vinegar
In large bowl, mix SPAM, rice krispies, egg and onion.
In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, mustard, ketchup and vinegar. Reserve 2 tablespoons for later. Pour remaining sauce into SPAM mixture. Mix well.
Press mixture into 2 microwave safe mugs. Don’t fill all the way to the top. Leave about 1-inch space. Spoon 1 tablespoon of reserved sauce into each mug. Microwave on 70 percent power for 5 minutes. Let stand 2 minutes before serving. Eat straight from the mug.
OH MAN. So I subscribe to the Bellingham Herald’s Recipe of the Day service. It’s basically a thing where the Herald will send a free recipe to your email inbox on the daily. Part of the reason that I subscribe is that I believe in supporting local journalism, so I wanted to give them an online assist. The other reason is that I’m always looking for easy recipes, and Recipes of the Day tend to be simple and quick. However, to my mind, “simple and quick” shouldn’t mean “utterly effing disgusting.” I prefer to cook using local, seasonal ingredients; I had hoped that, by subscribing to a local newspaper’s Recipe of the Day Service, that I’d be receiving tips on how to use up, say, the summer squash and tomatoes that have been flooding the local produce sections. The Recipe of the Day feature should be tuned into local agriculture; it would be a million times more useful that way. We’ve all got bags of slowly aging produce fragrancing our refrigerators at this time of year, but the provenance of said vegetables varies from region to region. We in the Northwest have access to pretty great produce year-round, but that doesn’t mean that we always know how to use it. A great ratatouille recipe isn’t news, but it can be timely. So that’s one aspect of why I’m so disappointed today.
Another is my general disappointment with “fast, family-friendly” recipes relying so often upon prepackaged ingredients (I’m looking at you, Rachel Ray.) Prepackaged ingredients tend to be sodium and corn syrup heavy; they also tend to taste crappy. And they’re unnecessary! Chow.com has a great feature called Take Your Lunch to Work. It explains how to make a week’s worth of quick lunches from a cheap ingredient like beans or tofu. You do a bunch of prep on Sunday, but then you convert the leftovers into easy, tasty meals. Some of these meals require as little prep as packaged Mac ‘n’ Cheese, but they use fresh components and are much better for you. Unfortunately, this type of food journalism is the exception, rather than the norm. Most people don’t have the time to make Coq au Vin on a weeknight (although it is a one-pot meal), but that doesn’t mean you can’t eat well. Heck, just make putanesca–Italian for “whore’s sauce,” so-called because it can be prepared in only twenty minutes, or between clients. The idea that prepackaged food is more efficient or cheaper than fresh food is a myth.
Which brings me to today’s Recipe of the Day, Mug ‘O’ Spam. I feel like somebody is making fun of me here. Is the Kansas State Fair trying to bait me? Is the Bellingham Herald being ironical? The Great American SPAM Championship? Aslan wept.
l can only conclude that Heather Britain is some sort of crazy Amy Sedaris performance art hipster. Otherwise, everything about this phenomenon is obscene. There is a certain cheekiness apparent in the title of this opus, but is it biting satirical cheekiness, a la Ricky Gervais, or is it a Rosanne/Pluggers/Home Improvement-style cheekiness? You know the sort I mean, it’s all “Isn’t it pathetic that we all wear sweatpants constantly? P.S. I totally validate the choice to wear sweatpants constantly as a blow against self-righteous pinko liberal Left Coast culture.”
Now, I’m definitely working-class, and I hate trustafarians as much as the next person, but there’s something unsavory about this kind of attitude, something proudly ignorant, something . . . uniquely American. I suppose that’s why they call it the GREAT AMERICAN SPAM CHAMPIONSHIP, rather than the International SPAM Cook-off. Apparently, there is something GREAT and AMERICAN and CHAMPION-y about cooking with SPAM (p.s. why SPAM instead of Spam or spam?) It’s really funny and ironical to seriously serve your family food WWII K-rations. (But what about Spam culture in Hawaii, you might be asking. Are you intentionally ignoring this important aspect of Spam history? The answer to that is yes. I’m only concerned, within this article, with Spam as a symbol in the lower 48.)
I am pissed at the Herald for joking me with this article. It symbolizes everything that’s wrong with the Recipe of the Day feature. And I am angry at the great state of Kansas, where as far as I can tell the apocalypse has already happened and the land is ruled solely by Stuckey’s managers and Grima Wormtongue-in-Wise Blood preachers and other Flannery O’Connor characters. But mostly I am mad at Heather Britain, I am just pretty sure that she is making fun of me. Or else she is a fantastic Shavian satirist and I want to be her when I grow up, I’m not sure. Because let’s think about this recipe for a moment, shall we?
You get a can of Spam “Classic” (!) and you shred it. You stand over the kitchen sink in your three-bedroom-ranch-style, and you scrape congealed aspic off a log of room-temperature “meat,” and then you put it in a bowl, and then you shred it. (Using what? The razor-sharp edges of your clinical depression?) Then you pour some Rice Crispies into the Spam bowl. I mean to say that you lurch into the living room, a little hazy from the Carlo Rossi strawberry wine you’ve been hitting since eleven, and fish the Rice Krispies box out from beneath the couch where little Madison stashed it, and you dump the last of it into your bowl of Spam. Your back hurts, so you put your arms on the counter and lean on them, pushing your butt out, trying to find the ache. You look out the kitchen window at the parking lot, and then you crack an egg onto your crispy Spam pile. You watch the white bubble around the pink Spam fragments for a while, and then you start looking for a small bowl. None of them are clean–the house is a graveyard of dirty bowls, stashed on every surface, from the TV to the counter to the top of the toilet. And the dishwasher is broken again. You pick out the cleanest of the dirty bowls–Madison’s cereal bowl from yesterday, with only a little milk caked in the bottom–and then you empty every condiment you’ve got into it. Mustard, brown sugar, vinegar, ketchup, dry mustard, some leftover onion–it doesn’t matter. You just need something that will wake y0ur mouth up, something to coat the strands of Spam as they slip down your throat. You want something salty and sweet and meaty and hot, something to keep you going. But you don’t have anything like that. You don’t even have any bowls. The thought of scrubbing Bob’s egg pan from this morning is too much, you’re not ready yet, you need to watch Ellen first. So you dump the spices into the Spam bowl, and you stir them half-heartedly, and you pack it into some Disney World mugs and you nuke it. 70 percent power is how high you nuke it, and you try to remember the last time you felt 50 percent, much less 70. You decide, right then, that the kitchen floor would be a good place to sit for a while. You slide down to the kitchen floor, and you do a little sitting. The microwave stops, the microwave bleats. You keep sitting. It keeps beeping, at 30 second intervals. You count them off. You don’t move. After the fourth one, you drag yourself up. You eat the Spam, straight from the mug. You try not to look at the veins in your hands, the cracks in the plaster. You eat the Spam, straight from the mug.