Hey, that tastes like someone I know

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For the benefit of all you cooking show fanatics out there -- and I live with one, so I know you're out there -- this is my humble contribution to the genre; a one-word crash-course in modern Hawaiian cuisine: SPAM. Hawaiians, it seems, eat more of it than anyone else in the U.S., an average of 16 tins per person per year. It's so popular, you can order it at McDonald's in Hawaii and even get it in sushi form. Turns out American G.I.s imported the stuff as rations during WWII, and a state-wide craze was born "“ as well as a state-wide epidemic of heart disease, diabetes and strokes. A 2001 Department of Health study found that 71% of deaths of Hawaiians aged 25 and older were "nutrition-related." But that doesn't explain the Hawaiian's atypical love of Spam, which is readily available in the rest of the U.S., but nowhere near as popular. Famous travel writer Paul Theroux has posited this theory:

"...the former cannibals of Oceania now feast on Spam because Spam came the nearest to approximating the porky taste of human flesh. `Long pig' as they called a cooked human being in much of Melanesia. It was a fact that the people-eaters of the Pacific had all evolved, or perhaps degenerated, into Spam-eaters. And in the absence of Spam they settled for corned beef, which also had a corpsy flavor."

Facing some criticism for his statement (apparently some people found it, uh, offensive) Theroux has since brushed it off as a joke. But it makes you wonder -- how corpsy does it taste? (Lacking any basis for comparison, I will have to take his word for it. Unless some brave (and depraved) reader would like to share a deep dark secret with us ...

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November 14, 2006 - 7:20am
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