You Don’t Know What You’re Missing Out On

15 Sep

spam musubi...mmm

In Kanagaki Robun’s “The Beefeater”, the beefeater is fascinated by Japan’s newest delicacy. Until recently, beef had been reserved only for the emperor.  But with the new westernization movement as part of the Meiji era, beef was now socially acceptable for anyone to consume.  With such a unique flavor (as compared to traditional Japanese meats, like deer or fish) that did not sacrifice taste, the beefeater is left to wonder why such a novel food took so long to become a part of Japanese culture.

One food that I’ve had a similar experience with is spam—Hawaii’s favorite meat.  Yes, I know as you’re reading this, you’re probably cringing and trying to get that disgusting image of a juicy slice of pink spam out of your brain.  Don’t worry.  This reaction is perfectly normal for people who have either not grown up in Hawaii, or not had the pleasure of eating a spam musubi.

From what I’ve gathered growing up in Hawaii, the main reason why foreigners are so opposed to spam is because it was generally viewed as a “lower-class” meat.  Just as the emperor was the only one who could eat beef in Japan (pre-Meiji) because it was seen as an elitist food, most people outside of Hawaii view spam as a food for the lower class.  So, similar to how it was in the Meiji period when one’s food choices indirectly conveyed his/her social status, spam also is a food that apparently shows one’s social inferiority (outside of Hawaii).  People in Hawaii however, are just fine with that judgment.  They could care less how foreigners view them because only they know what those anti-spam people are missing out on.  I though, like the beefeater, am quite curious as to why spam has failed to gain more of an appreciation in the other 49 states.

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