Hawaii. We think of a beautiful island paradise, tropical breezes, tropical drinks, wonderful Hawaiian customs, and ukulele music. We don’t think of SPAM, and yet Hawaii is the world’s SPAM capital. Hawaiians eat 6.7 million cans of the stuff per year. They love it. In fact, last month was the Hawaii “SPAM Jam,” with SPAM cook offs by famous Hawaiian chefs. They wrap it in seaweed and they eat it on sandwiches with eggs and mayonnaise. One can even buy a cookbook full of Hawaiian SPAM recipes. Hell, there are so many recipes they needed a second book.
I first learned of this from an old friend who has lived on Maui for more than thirty years. I thought he was joking, until he rattled off about a half dozen of his favorite SPAM recipes. I still don’t get it.
Some speculate that SPAM, which was “invented” in 1937, became popular in Hawaii during World War II as a result of its wide availability to servicemen stationed in the Islands. Who knows?
After listening to my friend talk about it several months ago, I bought a can of the stuff, determined to slice it thin, fry it and eat it with eggs, as he suggested. However, it is still sitting in the kitchen cabinet. Every time I think about trying it, I lose my nerve.
Besides, if you’re from Jersey, there is nothing – repeat – NOTHING like Taylor Ham (a/k/a Taylor Pork Roll), a Garden State staple. People in Jersey like Taylor Ham so much that some enterprising person has set up a website where people from Jersey who move away can buy Taylor Ham online. Great with Eggs, it also makes a terrific sandwich on a hard roll (called a “Kaiser Roll” by dweebs not from here), on rye or on a bagel with cheese.
SPAM? Nah. Make mine Taylor Ham.