Multi-American

How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Spam rocks? Much, much love for Spam musubi

Spam musubi to go, October 2006. Photo by klyphord/Flickr (Creative Commons)
Spam musubi to go, October 2006. Photo by klyphord/Flickr (Creative Commons) Photo by klyphord/Flickr (Creative Commons)

One of a series of posts last week that explored unsung ethnic delicacies highlighted Spam musubi, a popular snack made with Spam and sushi rice that is popular in Hawaii.

The series focused on those dishes or items that may not look or sound good, but are in fact delicious. I knew that Spam musubi was well-loved on the islands, and at least by one person in Washington, D.C., that being our Hawaii-raised president. But judging by the flood of comments that came in to KPCC's Facebook page, there is a great deal of Spam musubi love out there.

"This is one of my favorite foods!" Joanne Kakuda wrote.

"Hot dogs are worse than spam so I don't understand the prejudice against it," Tracy Munar-Ramos wrote. "Spam rocks!"

Okay, not entirely sure about that. Vanessa Lee put it in perspective:

Love spam musubi, but can't eat the pink canned stuff any other way.

There were a few groans, as might be expected with any Spam-related dish. Rhonda L. Smart wrote:
Not this. I tried it, and I guess it had been 25 years since I'd had spam, and I guess there was a reason why I hadn't eaten it for 25 years.

Perhaps keeping in mind the heavy Spam consumption on the islands (where Spam became popular out of necessity during World War II), Nick 'Krang' Fasso pointed out:
People often forget how poor Hawaii is. This is a good opportunity to remind them.

To which Helene Michele Los Banos replied:
Well I'm a haole that married a kanaka and spam musubi is the perfect beach snack. As for remembering how "poor" HI is.......whatevahs....we not a third world country!!!

I was momentarily horrified to read Cathy Kumamoto's comment about checking out a "Waikiki Spam Jam," but was relieved to learn it doesn't involve preserves. It's a Spam-related food festival.

And in the comments section beneath the original post, one reader noted that it's preferable to call Hawaii's outsider-influenced fusion cuisine, of which Spam musubi is a part, "Hawaii cuisine" as opposed to "Hawaiian cuisine" to distinguish it from the traditional foods native to the islands. Point well taken.

Know of an ethnic dish that might not sound great, but is? Please share it below. During the past week we've also highlighted Armenian-style chee kufta, a raw meat dish, and its spicy Ethiopian relative, kitfo. We've also enjoyed rabo encendido, a Caribbean oxtail dish whose Spanish name translates to "tail on fire," and Haitian-style roasted goat, referred to as cabrit.

All taste much better than they sound.

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