Hawaii. We think of a beautiful island paradise, tropical breezes, tropical drinks, wonderful Hawaiian customs, and ukulele music. We donâ€™t think of SPAM, and yet Hawaii is the worldâ€™s SPAM capital. Hawaiians eat 6.7 million cans of the stuff per year. They love it. In fact, last month was the Hawaii â€œSPAM Jam,â€ 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 donâ€™t get it.
Some speculate that SPAM, which was â€œinventedâ€ 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 youâ€™re from Jersey, there is nothing â€“ repeat â€“ 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 â€œKaiser Rollâ€ by dweebs not from here), on rye or on a bagel with cheese.
SPAM? Nah. Make mine Taylor Ham.