Why is Spam so popular with Chamorros?
ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE – Aside from Hawaii, there’s arguably no other place in the world than Guam where Spam is more popular.
On average, Chamorros eats about 16 tins of Spam each year, and the hot and spicy Spam flavor is actually made specifically for the people of Guam.
The Chamorros inherited this meal long ago, and it’s now a regular item found in the pantries of many homes on the island.
Although some people make fun of Spam, if we look at the whole world, we’ll find that each culture has adapted to different ways of surviving hunger. Imagine being held in a concentration camp with very meager food or water to consume. Mothers and fathers would have find ways to feed their children. Imagine the hunger.
Imagine those who were not able to survive and, after months and months of unbearable misery, everyone was liberated and the process to bring normalcy to the lives of so many people began.
The people of Guam experienced this first hand. There were no homes to go back to, many showed signs of malnutrition and there were refugee camps built. Food rations, including spam, corn beef and corn beef hash were passed out by the liberators. They became manna for all in the refugee camps. These staples became part of the Chamorros eating pleasures.
The Chamorros in the refugee camps did not complain. They offered thanksgiving through prayers in worship and through songs. The Chamorros sang telling the stories of current events and each song line was expressed with so much feelings.
Aside from spam, corn beef and corn beef hash, clothing handouts such as fatigues, pants, T-shirts and shoes were passed out. The Chamorros were so grateful and again gave thanks in prayers.
Today, Spam is added to breakfast menus at some of the dining establishments or restaurants around the island such as Shirley’s, King’s, Denny’s and some other fast food stores.
Here are a couple of recipes you may wish to try.
Spam stir fry
- 1 can spam - choose low sodium; dice in small chunks
- ½ onion - dice in small chunks or slice thinly
- 1 clove garlic - slice thinly (optional)
- 2 small carrots or 1 large carrots - slice in strips and then French cut
- 1 celery stalk - slice like carrots - 1 green, yellow or red bell pepper - slice into French cut
- 2 cups of broccoli, medium cut
- 3 cups cabbage, medium slice
- 4 medium hot green or red pepper - slice thinly (optional; only if you enjoy spicy taste)
- Dash of low sodium soy sauce
- Dash of red and black pepper
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
Empty can of Spam into a bowl. Use a potato masher and mash the Spam into small pieces. Squeeze the juice from a lemon. Add a half cup of chopped onions or two stalks of diced scallions and finely diced boonie peppers. Mix well.
This can be added to a bed of lettuce leaf in a taco shell and ready for eating. It can also go with rice, chips or tortillas.