Spam’s Carbon Footprint II
|Text||Craig Santos Perez|
SPAM was born on July 5, 1937, in Austin, Minnesota—the home of Hormel headquarters and the SPAM museum #cubistartyoucaneat. Eight pounds of SPAM die in every Chamorro stomach each year, which is more per capita than any other ethno-intestinal tract in the world. Motto: “Guam is Where the Impure Pork Products of America Begin!”
Our guttural love of SPAM was born in 1944, when cases of the shiny cans were berthed from aircraft carriers. That fateful day when my grandparents first tasted SPAM is commemorated as the Feast Day of the Immaculate Consumption. St. Hormel, pray for [us]. The rest of the story is gestational genealogy, a delicious cycle. Sadly, military recruiters are now worried that young Chamorros have become too unhealthy and obese to enlist in the armed forces.
My food philosophy is simple: I eat therefore I SPAM. How can I prove that I’m an authentic indigenous person and not a SPAM script? At this year’s Hormel SPAM Cook-Off in Guam, the Polish inspired “Pika Pieirogi” ousted the “Crispy Wanton Spam Ravioli” for first place. I’ve eaten turkey SPAM, smoke-flavored SPAM, hot and spicy SPAM, garlic SPAM, SPAM lite, Portuguese Sausage flavored SPAM, and more! When did our lives become so complicated and post-modern? WSFWJE? What SPAM Flavor Would Jesus Eat?
Come closer, closer, and I will whisper to you, in my sexy voice, “google the SPAM factory’s dirty little secret.” Oooohhh baby, here I am, come rub up on my belly like SPAM jelly—Oooo baby here I am, come rub up on my belly like SPAM jelly, Spam-Spam-Jelly, Spam-Spam Jelly! #mandatorymarley. In the morning, we can bring our SPAM labels to the Sorensen Media Group Offices in Hågatña, and redeem 12 labels for a SPAM shirt and 9 for a SPAM hat. Guam is an acronym for “Give Us American Meat.”
My favorite scene in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath (b. 1939) is when the tractor driver takes a lunch break near a tenant house and eats his sandwich of white bread, pickle, cheese, and SPAM. The curious, starving children surround the driver, watching his hands carry the SPAM to his mouth.
Once upon spiral time, a Chamorro brother and sister refused to eat SPAM, so their Authentic Chamorro Grandmother banished them into the diaspora and cursed them to a life without meat. The vegetarian siblings migrated to Minnesota, where they opened the world’s first vegan butcher shop and sold meatless meats at farmers markets and pop-up events. They dedicated their lives to creating the perfect vegan SPAM. They tried vital wheat gluten. They tried garbanzo tapioca flour. They tried peanut butter. “The flavor’s good but the texture’s off,” they say in unison. “SPAM is just a difficult whale to catch.” If they succeed, I will never eat it.