And I don’t even really care for spam.
I grew up in the Spam Capitol of the world. I found the pink luncheon meat tucked into dishes of all kinds—goya champuru, sushi, breakfast platters at McDonald’s. It was everywhere. I thought it was too salty and pushed it around my plate.
I still wince at its saltiness. Now, when my husband cooks Spam, he slices the pieces so thin for me and fries it crispy crispy. It’s the only way I like it, and I appreciate his consideration of my picky taste. I can’t handle a big slab of Spam. I need a big ass scoop of rice to take it down.
All this to say—regardless of how pervasive to my upbringing it was—Spam is not my favorite, and I can admit it. But Spam is the butt of so many mainland jokes. Spam is ghetto. Spam is nasty. Spam is mystery meat that should be avoided at all costs.
When people who are not from Guam, Hawaii, or Okinawa make fun of Spam, I bristle a bit. It’s not quite racist, but it feels a little racist. Why? It feels like they’re making fun of an integral part of our culture—our food. And why am I allowed to shit on Spam? Well, I’d liken it to the classic sibling “ONLY I CAN MAKE FUN OF MY BROTHER/SISTER” dynamic.
I can talk shit about Spam, because I grew up on island with the highest consumption of Spam per capita in the universe.
But the truth is we don’t have some righteous claim on Spam. It’s not even our product. It‘s ground and canned in Minnesota. If you look at our history, islanders adopted Spam during World War II out of necessity. After the war ended, the love affair between Spam and Hawaiians and Guamanians blossomed, and it’s still going strong.
When a mainlander makes fun of Spam, to me, it’s like, “Hey islanders, forget about the colonization and whatever. Just wanted to point out that the food you have grown to love due to unfortunate circumstance—it’s fucking gross! Ew.”
Which is why, if you’re not from Spam country and you run your mouth about Spam, I atan baba in your general direction. Don’t ask me what atan baba is. Educate yourself.
Hey, I don’t actually think it’s racist for white people to not like Spam. That’s insane. But I do think that it’s rude to make fun of other cultures, and Spam is part of my culture. That sounds ridiculous, but it’s true? So just don’t be rude. That’s pretty much it.
a lady who doesn’t even care for Spam all that much