How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Getting Spammed: The love keeps on coming for Spam musubi

Photo by klyphord/Flickr (Creative Commons)

When I featured Hawaii's Spam musubi last month on a list of unsung ethnic delicacies, I never imagined the reaction it would provoke among readers and the general public.

My shout-out to the humble snack - a slice of seasoned and grilled Spam atop sushi rice, wrapped with a piece of nori - inspired the most feedback I've ever received about a particular dish. It also inspired an excellent recent piece in Hyphen Magazine, replete with the master's thesis-sounding title of "The End of Spam Shame: On Class, Colonialism, and Canned Meat."

In it, author Sylvie Kim wrote about growing up on a tight budget in a Korean American family of five, a childhood "chock-full of nitrates, sodium, and an amalgam of four-legged animals chopped and cured into uniform cuts of salty goodness that was inexpensive, easy to heat, and lasted for damn near forever." There were sliced hot dogs that made their way into kim bap, Vienna sausages, and Spam, made delicious when cubed and added to kimchee fried rice.


Five ethnic food tastes worth acquiring: The meat edition

Photo by Manogamo/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Last week, Multi-American delved once more into that culinary landscape where some diners fear to tread, the territory of the unsung ethnic delicacy.

These are the dishes that don't necessarily sound good, look good or or even smell good, but are worth trying because they are unexpectedly delicious.

Our first series in March covered a range of foods, from drinks like the Vietnamese avocado milkshake to main dishes like arroz con calamares en su tinta, a particularly unattractive squid dish served in several Latin American countries.

The series last week focused on meat dishes, cooked, raw and canned. True to form, none sound like anything one would rush out to try, but don't be put off. For any carnivores who might have missed these treats, here they are in a convenient list. Dig in.


Spam rocks? Much, much love for Spam musubi

Photo by klyphord/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Spam musubi to go, October 2006. 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: