Advice letter: Spam – The New York Times

I can’t say I grew up eating more Spam. At home, it was a treat, something that my mother would fry when my dad was away and he served – on the way to the Philippines – with rice. My mom was a great cook and believed in fresh ingredients, but Spam is the exception. Sometimes it was also wrapped in baked corn tortillas, adding milk and sugar to make it into a dessert. After a long time, there could have been a dairy drink, and my sister and I were invited to spread the bread, or we could even eat it directly with a spoon. Like many of my mom’s parenting choices, Spam cooking and her lean siblings have a rich history that she chose not to share. But for these foods, the only one I still love – and passed on to my kids – is Message.

My kids eat Spam because I ate it, and I eat it because my mom ate it: for two centuries and counting a rise in popularity, it's kind of a legacy. While the origins of the family are rife with time, buried in the lazy pastures of the weekend, Spam works for an irreplaceable, reusable.

My friends find my love for Spam amazing, despite the fact that Filipinos are famous for their Spam love. Spam eating is a definite feature of my Filipino personality, but there are many other foods that can do the job effectively – including fish fertilized chicken eggs, and dinuguan, soup made with pork, which I did not want to eat today. Canned food is generally something I avoid, like I avoid fries and fries or toast rolls or whatever you eat without being overly prepared. I know that Spam – at a revolutionary level – is difficult to defend. When you open the faucet & # 39; Spam & # 39;, one is killed first with a good odor, remembering Alpo; then, a reddish-brown color, reinforced with a bright layer of aspic; and finally, by the jellyish sense, the best aroma left to jelly. But cut into slices and fried in a pan, served with fried rice with garlic and eggs on a sunny side, is delicious. If you want, you can even eat straight to the grill, just like the soldiers did during World War II – and indeed, Spam's presence of American racism in the Philippines during that war is exactly what ended up on the food radar. in the Philippines. in the first place.

At the beginning of the war, my mother's family did well. They lived in the walled city of Intramuros, part of Manila famous for its colonial buildings and tree-lined streets. My grandfather, who was a doctor, worked for Americans on behalf of the drug company Parke-Davis. He was half-American himself, and he and his father and grandmother and a growing family (six children at the beginning of the war, then seven, then six others) lived together, in slavery, in a Spanish-speaking home. shape. When the Japanese invaded, the slaves were released. My great-grandmother, who lives in the states, had an agreement with a Japanese officer to allow her to bring food to her family in the city – a plan that worked, for a while, until we got to work. My grandmother was sent to the labor camp at Santo Tomas as bombs and battles broke out in the Pacific and the public began their great struggle against hunger.

It is impossible to really understand Spam's love in the Philippines without understanding that struggle. The country has been at war for almost four years. The liberation of Manila was one of the greatest events in the history of the assassination. At the time of his surrender to Japan, he could not endure much for those lucky enough to survive, but there was not much food. For food was in the hands of the United States, American food; and what soldiers can share, they did.

My cousin loved to tell the story of G.I. who he and his neighbor's children ran into at the end of the war. The US is shaking the children, happy to learn to speak English. I had no doubts about the appearance of their skin and bones, and he began to supply what he had with his food: high-quality bars, canned corn and canned milk. He opened it, and the kids ate it all. He then offered – ironically – a cigarette, the Marlboro Reds, which they eagerly accepted, and lit it in a dangerous light. “Your mother was 11. Even the 8-year-old smokes. We were all smiling and coughing and laughing. He, too.

No doubt G.I., not too young for the little boy himself, was enjoying a moment of laughter after spending the last few years of his young knees collapsing in the brutal war. I see him standing there, digging through the bag to see what is left of him, laughing at his large teeth in America, the kids pulling their legs together with their little hands, their eyes kicking with hope, asking them to eat more. Saying: "The only thing I got for you, what's left of you, is one more Hershey … cigarettes, which you don't like … and look, good luck. A Spam!