4.271 SPAM Musubi + SPAM Burger Hamburger

Cycle 4 – Item 271

3 (Thu) October 2013

SPAM Musubi + SPAM Burger Hamburger



(Mall of Asia)

-Pasay, Metro Manila, Philippines-


WHO Informal Consultation on Reducing the Harmful Impact on Children of Marketing Foods, Beverages, Tobacco, and Alcohol + Singapore Diet + WHO Health Law Project (Day 10)

    1. 4.262 1-Piece Chickenjoy Meal + Pancit Palabok
    2. 4.263 Parros Clams in Spicy Black Bean Sauce
    3. 4.264 3-Piece Chicken Barbecue
    4. 4.265 Chilli Crab
    5. 4.266 White Carrot Cake
    6. 4.267 Hainanese Chicken Rice
    7. 4.268 Inasal Chicken
    8. 4.269 Mango
    9. 4.270 The Original – Verena
    10. 4.271 SPAM Musubi + SPAM Burger Hamburger
    11. 4.272 Chicken Curry with Raisin Biryani

In Manila.  Two sponsored objectives of the trip, under the auspices of the World Health Organization Regional Office for the Western Pacific (WHO WPRO): (1) to participate in a technical expert meeting on finding ways to protect children from the marketing of unhealthy products; (2) to progress the health law project that I’ve been involved with since last year.   The more important informal objective, on my own dime: (3) to visit Singapore and stuff my face.

Even if direct advertisement of “harmful” food products could be banned outright, the insidious impact of such indirect marketing–indeed, I’m perpetuating the effects by writing about it here–is practically impossible to stop.

SPAMJAM is a food kiosk.  The stand sells products made with SPAM.  Unknown whether related to the annual SPAM Jam festivals held in Minnesota and Hawaii.

SPAMMY (I would’ve named him “Sam the Spam”).

Asian culture + American military = SPAM.  The phenomenon started during/post WWII, when SPAM was issued to US GIs in their ration packs, notably throughout the Pacific, including Hawaii, Guam, Saipan, the Philippines, where the tropical conditions made spoilage a concern for fresh meat, as well as Korea and Japan later on, anywhere that the Americans set up base, allowing the products to trickle via the black market into the native food culture, indelibly, to this day.  SPAM was the first dependable source of meat for many of the people in those countries.  (Europeans, by contrast, probably turned their noses up at the rectangular tins of Specially Processed American Meat because they’d long been carnivores with their own methods of preserving meats.)  Imagine, for someone back then, hungry for anything, let alone meat, that initial explosion of flavor from a bite of pan-fried SPAM.  No wonder that it would leave a lifelong impression.  Reminds me, back in college, a professor teaching Shakespeare quipped in class that he wished to erase his memory so that he could experience reading Romeo and Juliet for the first time again.

The limited menu and mode of service makes me suspect that marketing is the primary motive here, not selling food.

So long as I’m on the subject, I’m declaring that anyone who poo-poos SPAM, while eating hotdogs or baloney or any other processed meat, is a dumbass.

As far as SPAM goes, I’ll also declare that Koreans have everyone beat, because we eat it with kimchi, the ultimate combination.

SPAM Musubi is a Hawaiian dish.  It consists of a grilled slice of SPAM over a block of rice, typically seasoned in soy/teriyaki sauce, wrapped in strip of laver, looking like a large rectangular brick of sushi.  In fact, it was invented in Hawaii by local Japanese immigrants in the style of omusubi, a type of all-in-one/ready-to-go rice ball.  Just one of the myriad methods that SPAM is enjoyed on the islands, famously home to the highest per capita consumption of the product in the world.

3 points: (i) even abroad, I can’t resist point-of-sale promotions; (ii) 20% off represents a savings of PHP 10 (less than a quarter); (iii) gotta love “Ala carte” used in the context of SPAM.

Anyway, the food wasn’t that great.  All ready-made, just a final reheat upon order.  SPAM per se is good no matter what, but it just wasn’t very creatively used here.  Regardless, it was an interesting experience.



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