Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Real Spam and Yes, It's Edible

Monty Python sings:

Lovely Spaaam! Wonderful Spaaam!Lovely Spaaam! Wonderful Spam.Spa-a-a-a-a-a-a-am.Spa-a-a-a-a-a-a-am.Spa-a-a-a-a-a-a-am.Spa-a-a-a-a-a-a-am.Lovely Spaaam! (Lovely Spam!)Lovely Spaaam! (Lovely Spam!)Lovely Spaaam!Spaaam, Spaaam, Spaaam, Spaaaaaam! 

What in the world made me think about Spam? Well, I was reading a review of the touring "Spamalot" and that's what brought on silly thoughts. "I fart in your general direction", "I'm not dead yet" and "Bring me a shrubbery!" And that segued into remembering that Austin, Texas (Keep Austin Weird) used to and still does have a Spam cooking competition. Now the Bitchy Gourmet is always intrigued by anything that goes on in her favorite town in Texas (Maybe in the whole US of A!). If you have not been to Austin, you are missing out man. The live music capital of the world, the South by Southwest Music Festival, hiking trails, biking trails, wild flowers, 6th street, Barton Creek, Barton Creek Resort and golf. Now, that's MY kind of town. But let's get back to Spam spam spam spam. Here's how the Spam cooking contest began:

Excerpts From The Official SPAMARAMA™ Cookbook by David Arnsberger:

It was the early spring of 1976. Dick Terry and I were fraternizing one afternoon and Dick was bellyaching about how chili cook-offs had become so common-place." I mean, anybody can cook chili." Dick observed, "All you need is some kinda meat, some water, chili powder, comino, and maybe some cayenne, garlic, and/or onion, and you got yer basic chili. If you're from north of the Red River, you might throw in some kinda beans, but basically, that's about all it takes to make 'chili.'" " Yeah, not much of a challenge there, is it?" I responded.
" Now if someone could make SPAM® edible," Dick continued, "That would be a challenge. We ought to have a a 'SPAM®-Off.'"" Yeah, a 'SPAMARAMA™!'" I blurted out. "We could ask George Majewski over at Soap Creek Saloon if he'd like to host it, and we could have it on April Fool's Day." " Let's do it!" Dick agreed.
And that, in a nutshell, is the beginning of the very first, longest running and funnest SPAM® event in the history of the entire universe. I never thought that it would last more than a year or two. I never thought it would attract more than a handful of Spamophiles who had been cooking and eating the infamous potted pork product since World War II. I never thought there were so many things you could make out of SPAM®!But I was wrong! .......David Arnsberger

The Potentate of Potted Pork Parties

And here is a description of the Spamness itself:

Excerpt from the Daily Texan
SPAM® Takes the City by Storm!By Dan Kleiner On April 1, a torch left New York City headed for Austin with a can of SPAM sitting atop it where the fire should have been. When a girl ran with the torch through the gates of Waterloo Park on Saturday, it began the 26th year of a festival inspired by the meat product that fed England during World War II.
SPAMARAMA™ drew thousands - an estimated 8,000 to 9,000 people - to the park for music, food, rides and the SPAMALYMPICS. " SPAMARAMA™ has gone through a lot of changes, and this year is no different," said Norman Kieke, the executive director of Disability Assistance of Central Texas, SPAMARAMA™'s main sponsor. "It grew out of a small neighborhood function and gets better every year. We are always very excited."
The SPAM®-related festival started out small as an alternative event to April Fools' Day barbecues at the original Soap Creek Saloon. It has since moved to Waterloo Park and picked up the support of Kieke's organization, which receives 50 percent of the proceeds and uses them to provide employment support, technology training and general assistance to disabled Central Texans.
Local rock band Uranium Savages opened the festival and the second event, a SPAM® toss, began the SPAMALYMPICS. The youngest competitor, 11-year-old Alex Hager, opened the SPAM® calling contest, which is just like hog calling but with the word "SPAM®." His unique call, a series of armpit noises followed by a call of "Here SPAM®, here SPAM®!" took the gold medal.
Returning to defend their title in the SPAM® toss were Mark and Cody Mikeska, a father-son team with four previous SPAM® tosses under its belt. SPAM® tossers throw a chunk of SPAM® to each other at increasing distances until someone drops it. After three rounds of flying SPAM®, which sometimes christened spectators with SPAM® juice, the defending champions were pitted against two other teams. The Mikeskas won the 2004 championship. "The key is getting enough elevation under the SPAM®," Mark Mikeska said after their victory.
Many groups occupied tents, including 10-year SPAMARAMA™ veterans the Squealage People. The men dressed up as the Village People with pig-like modifications. Nathan Hinds, who drove from San Marcos for the festival, said he was particularly proud of their accomplishments this year. "Today we have a concoction called 'Queer Pork on a Straight Fork'," Hinds said. "We have won the 'Worst Taste' award eight of the last nine years, and we're darned proud of that."
After sampling the creations of various culinary artists, spectators saw the most heated and controversial SPAMARAMA™ event - the Collegiate SPAM® Relay. The race pitted UT students against contestants from Texas A&M University in a relay. It started out dead even, but by the final SPAM® handoff, the Aggies had gained a slight lead. UT's Randy Gonzalez, a 23-year-old chemical engineering senior, narrowed the lead but lost control of the SPAM® in the last few seconds. Victory went to Texas A&M, inciting booing and calls for a rematch from the crowd
After a short break, people began surging forward, pushing and leaning to get as close to the stage as possible for the final event. For years, the SPAM®-eating contest was known as the SPAM® cram. This year, the International Federation of Competitive Eating sponsored the event, bringing with it Rich and Carlene LeFevre, two of the world's most renowned eaters. The couple whizzed through SPAM® burgers, and Carlene performed her trademark "Carlene bounce," jumping up and down to settle food in her stomach. After the final bell, Rich came out on top, having eaten just more than six 12-ounce SPAM® burgers. Carlene won second place with just under five. When asked about the level of competition, Rich LeFevre said, "I was only worried about Carlene."
With the conclusion of the Spamalympics came the awards presentation for the cook-off winners. The Squealage People successfully defended their Worst Taste title with "Queer Pork on a Straight Fork," and the Lone Star Cafe-sponsored Spalamo team won the Best in Show prize for its Alamo-shaped SPAM® appetizers.

And if the above makes your mouth water, here's a delectable recipe for your enjoyment. Bon Appetito Your Weirdness!

CRICKET'S SPAM QUICHE Meats, Eggs Yield: 4 servings

1 c Coarsely chopped mushrooms

5 T Butter/margarine

1 c Finely crushed stone wheat -crackers

1/4 c Green onions, sliced

1/4 c Brown onions, chopped

3/4 c Monterey Jack cheese

3/4 c Medium Sharp Cheddar cheese, -grated

3/4 c Mozzarella cheese, grated

1 c Ricotta cheese

4 ea Eggs

1/4 t Cayenne pepper

1/4 t Paprika

1/4 c Milk

1 ea Cooked artichoke

1/4 c Green bell pepper, chopped

1/4 c Red bell pepper, chopped

1 cn Spam, shredded

Saute mushrooms in 3 Tbs butter until limp. Stir in the crushed crackers, then turn into well greased 10-inch round quiche pan. Press mushroom mixture evenly over bottom of dish and up the sides. Melt remaining butter, add onions, saute and add shredded Spam. Layer shredded cheeses and Spam in dish. In blender, whirl the eggs, ricotta, milk and cayenne until smooth. Pour into crust and sprinkle with paprika. Place sauteed red and green bell peppers on top. Bake in oven at 375 for 40 to 45 mins. Garnished with cooked artichoke.

Now if that isn't weird enough for you, then you're weird......

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