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Dubious GastronomyThe Cultural Politics of Eating Asian in the USA$
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Robert Ji-Song Ku

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780824839215

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824839215.001.0001

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(p.190) 6 Spam
Dubious Gastronomy

Robert Ji-Song Ku

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter discusses the place of SPAM in today's culinary cultures of the Pacific, Pacific Rim, and among many Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. SPAM, one of the major dubious foods in America, is widely regarded as vulgar, tacky, and farcical. Some claim that SPAM is an affront to the very idea of real or whole food, but others believe it to embody discrete indigenous cuisines or, alternatively, a luxury commodity—or simultaneously both. This chapter first considers how SPAM came to be a beloved comfort food in Hawaii and a status symbol in the Philippines and South Korea. It then examines the role of food preservation—particularly the method of canning food—in the history of seafaring and the modern military. It also explores how SPAM figures in popular culture and how it became America's substitute meat of choice and gained international fame. Finally, it looks at a number of SPAM recipes in Hawaii, including “Chili, SPAM, and Egg Rice Bowl.”

Keywords:   dubious foods, SPAM, cuisine, Hawaii, Philippines, South Korea, food preservation, popular culture, recipes, United States

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