Korea and Spam: A love story
Korea loves spam.
In fact after the residents of Hawaii and Guam, Koreans eat the most Spam in the world and they even exchange it as a gift on important holidays, like the Korean Thanksgiving, Chuseok, which ends today. Which leads us to ask, uh, why do Koreans love spam so much? What is there to like about that pink, geometric, jello-meat that's more than slightly reminiscent of inexpensive cat food? What is this spamsession about??
Well first a little chunk of history: Spam was introduced to Korea by American troops stationed there and was often used as a valuable item for bartering. Times were tough and so was Spam - a ready to eat source of protein in a can that wouldn't spoil easily. It initially had to be smuggled and was sold on the black market.
Nowadays Spam is everywhere in Korea and comes in flavors like Classic Spam, Mild Spam, Bacon Spam, and Garlic Spam. It's used as a cooking ingredient and can be fried up or incorporated into spicy soups or rice dishes, some of which harken back to it's introduction by the American military such as Budae Jijigae ("Army Base Stew").
In contrast to its lowly reputation in the States, in Korea Spam gets respect. There are even restaurants that specialize in Spam dishes and when out shopping for gifts, a special Spam-filled holiday gift basket can run up to 75 dollars.
So the next time you hear someone making fun of Spam, remember that in Korea that guy wouldn't be very popular during Chuseok! And whether or not you enjoy Spam, you're sure to enjoy Monty Python's classic Spam sketch.
Don't worry about clicking on it. We promise it's not spam.