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Spam: Our Nation’s “Meat” (Nicole)

5 Jun

Spam.

Spam Rice: Spam marinated in shoyu and sugar, rice, and nori

Just the word alone causes some to cringe and gag.  It conjures images of the gelatinous glob of processed meat parts vacuum sealed in a rectangular can.  What is it made of? Where did it come from? Is it even safe to eat?  For most, spam is a mysterious, potentially life-threatening “meat” product. For me, and the majority of those in Hawaii, spam is simply the best.  Fried with eggs and rice or soaked in teriyaki sauce and wrapped with rice and nori, spam provides the perfect meal.  Salty and satisfying.

Historically, spam was used as a ration for soldiers in the army.  It was portable, edible, and kept for a long time.  It was not, however, limited to those fighting in the war.  Spam also left the battlefields and entered the kitchens of the citizens.  Because of the strong military presence in Hawaii, local residents also became large consumers of rations, especially spam.  Today, spam remains a common food among locals.  No pantry is complete without a can of spam.  No 7-11 is without a wide selection of spam musubi (original, spam and egg, spam and furikake, etc.).  No local restaurant’s menu is without a spam dish (spam and cabbage, fried spam and eggs, spam loco moco etc.).  It is difficult to escape the presence of spam in Hawaii.

Spam is a nationalistic food because it is the food of the people.  Of the soldiers who fought our wars, of the citizens who bought it with humble salaries and hungry stomachs, and of the brave young soul who dares to partake in its mysterious flavors.

Green Tea Mochi Ice Cream (Nicole)

25 May

Little Green Glob

Where did this little green glob come from?  Certainly not from Japan, I thought.  What was this imposter?

I had had my share of green tea in Japan. Every night I would sit at the dining room table and warm my hands against the ceramic cup.  The hot green-tinged liquid smelled woodsy and comforting.  I had also had my share of mochi.  Those powdered little morsels would slowly melt away between my teeth and tongue as I chewed.

This, however, was neither green tea nor mochi.  It was an amalgamation.  A scientifically synthesized creation spawned of Japanese flavors, American novelty, and ice cream.  The ice cream was essential.  The cold viscous matter burgeoning at its mochi seams created a delectable scene.  As the white powder that had delicately dusted the pinched top of the mound dissolved into the mochi, I gingerly picked it up and bit into it.  My front teeth broke through the sticky mochi barrier and froze as it met the cold ice cream.  The sweet taste of ice cream mingled with the subtle taste of mochi as I chewed and swallowed.  I lapped up the powder that had settled onto my lips and then dived in for another bite.

Mochi and Ice Cream

Chewing and Melting

A fusion of flavors merged with a fusion of textures

I had gobbled it up in under a minute.  I pressed down the ridged paper cup that had housed the mochi ice cream and glanced back at the frozen rows of mochi ice cream behind me.  With only a moment’s hesitation, I pushed my chair back and approached the counter

“I’ll have a strawberry one now.”