by Karen Miner
Whether or not you are a Spam lover, you have to be intrigued by this "summery feast for a winter's day." Sweet, salty, savory... 1954 knew how to eat. Or did they? We shall find out.
Let me start by saying this: I didn't go into this experiment hating Spam. I am a lover of many questionable meat products — I have been known to snap into a Slim Jim, I regularly eat something called "meat candy," and I happily partake in hot dogs that I am positive do not contain only beef. So I have nothing against the idea of a pressed ham-like substance.
Let me also say this: I DID go into this experiment hating canned peaches in heavy syrup. As a matter of fact, I almost felt the need to explain myself to the checker at the grocery store, even though she was scanning them right alongside the Spam and several other suspect purchases. But can I just get on my soapbox for a minute? Fruit doesn't NEED heavy syrup. Fruit is inherently sweet. For the love of God, fruit is nature's candy (not to be confused with meat candy, which I'm sure God also had a hand in). /rant
Now there are a few curiosities about this recipe, but my biggest question is why "fiesta"? Adding some clip art that vaguely resembles stereotypical imagery apparently makes anything a fiesta? Also, I'm not sure how many they intended this "memorable main dish" to serve, but if it's more than two I think they have badly miscalculated. Or maybe it's just because they assumed, even back then, that everyone would be offering their portion up to their brothers and sisters. "No, really, you take mine. THAT’S how much I love you."
Onto the taste test, which I recruited my parents for (lucky them). My mom happens to be a vegetarian but no matter... I was sure she would have some useful commentary to provide. The dish was quick and easy to prepare, as promised ("and economical, too!"). Now I'll be honest — nobody was breaking down the door to taste this, but we did, and here's a little commentary:
Mom: Ew. You smell the cloves, but in the background you smell this dirty... I can't describe it. Ew. I'm not sure what that smell is... I can't identify it. But you smell the muted cloves and then something nasty.
Dad: It smells like Spam. [Said not as a compliment.]
Mom: Well, dog food then.
Mom: Look at how icky the peaches look. They look kind of like shiny plastic.
Dad: The whole thing looks plastic. Even the Spam looks plastic.
Mom: Those peaches look disgusting. I bet they taste even worse than they look. I'm glad I'm not tasting that shit.
Mom: If that's supposed to serve five, don't forget you have your instant mashed potatoes, and your canned green beans, and for dessert your jello loaded with fruit.
Dad: It's a fiesta!
Mom: What's it taste like?
Dad: Like a hot dog. Like a shitty hot dog.
Me: It tastes like someone ground up a bunch of hot dogs, mixed it with egg to make it fluffy, then added "peach" flavor and a pinch of pumpkin pie spice. It was honestly hard to get down, and made my cheeks tingle and my body shiver.
Mom: I'm so glad I don't eat meat. Well, even if I did, I wouldn't eat that.
Dad: Let me try one of the edges here.
Mom: Without the peaches, without the "fiesta"?
Dad: Ugh. That is f-ing gross. Repurpose that and fry it. It might give it a little flavor. [We did, and it didn't.]
Dad: Back in the day, Spam was not like that. It was like chopped up ham pressed together. [Speaking as if that's a good thing.]
Me: It tastes like Christmas gone wrong.
Later that day, I made my husband try it reheated. That didn't go well either: Oh man. That's salty. Oh man. Um, I wouldn't say it's good. So this was like a taste treat or something? [Cats attempting to repeat their taste test.] Alright, that's pretty disgusting. Oh man. It has, you know, ham-like flavor, but it's not ham. Oh man. That is salty. Do you like it??? Did anyone like it??? Man.
So, as it turns out, this dish was neither a fiesta in our mouths, nor did it "hit the spot because there’s ham in Spam."
My advice: stick to good ol' fashioned fried Spam and juicy fresh peaches. But not together. Dear God, never together.