Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Way We Eat, and Spam.

I just listened to this NPR story about how the Japanese internment camps during WWII affected Japanese (food) culture in America. One account mentioned the prevalence of Spam, which made me think of how it's so popular in Asian foods, especially the pacific islands like Hawaii and the Philippines.

That brought me to this website, which briefly mentions the history of Spam with one paragraph of note:

During World War II, sales of Spam soared. In part because it requires no refrigeration, Spam was perfect for the military and became a standard K-ration for U.S. soldiers. Military personnel introduced it in Hawaii and elsewhere.
From another website:
"Spam Musubi" is one cuisine that Japanese in Hawaii invented and popularized. Musubi (omusubi or onigiri) refers to rice ball, a traditional Japanese food which is commonly found in the Japanese diet in Japan even today. However, combining American canned meat "Spam" and musubi is a creation by Issei and Nisei in Hawaii during World War II when fresh meat or fish was scarce. Today it is one of the most beloved Japanese foods in Hawaii.
Alice is reading The United States of Arugula right now, and although I haven't read it, all this talk about history and influences on food has me thinking... it's so moving how a dish like "Weenie Royale" can be celebrated and redeemed despite its gloomy origins. And to think that there are so many other political and historical influences on our food culture that we don't even realize... that might have nothing to do with tradition or "authenticity." And just how Spam reflects US "influence"* on the Pacific. My thoughts are so scattered! I need to do some research!

* I use the word "influence" in quotes because some may think of that as a euphemism.

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