TAKING the idea of culinary convenience to a new level is SPAM, a popular and compact lump of canned processed meat from the USA. Aside from its modestly priced meaty goodness, SPAM’s name has also become synonymous with Monty Python and, more recently, also unsolicited and unwanted emails that generally flaunt miracle cures for impotence.

Originating in Austin, Minnesota, SPAM has fed millions since its introduction back in 1937. Popularised during World War II, it became the predominant food on the menu for American troops stationed in the Pacific, which in turn has now led to Hawaii being the largest SPAM-consuming state in the USA.

Back on the mainland, Austin also boasts the SPAM Museum and archives – “16,500 square feet of pure pork fun,” according to manager Shawn Radford. Not to be outdone, the city is also home to a restaurant with a menu devoted exclusively to SPAM, called “Johnny’s SPAMarama Menu,” as well as holding an annual carnival celebrating all things SPAM.

For the curious, the labelled ingredients in the classic variety of SPAM include a dizzying cocktail of ham, pork, salt, water, modified potato starch, and added sodium nitrite to help assist in keeping its colour. Yum!

If you’re seeking a little adventure with your SPAM, be sure to check out such varieties as Honey SPAM, SPAM with Bacon, and Hot and Spicy SPAM.

Its charms have not been restricted to American borders, however, with the meat also being produced in Denmark, the Philippines and South Korea in order to reach a wider market.

A little closer to home, feel free to head on down to Behnford’s in Helsinki if you’re looking for a taste of this American institution, peel back the metal lid and dig in.

James O’Sullivan