About two years ago I started a blog called Culinary Atrocities about the dark side of food. I decided not to update it anymore beacause the constant hunt for gross things has begun to take away a significant part of my spare time. The blog still is online though and will remain so for the time being.
When I stated this blog, a reader asked me if I was somehow going to merge the two. Now this blog is mainly about cooking, not so much about “meta food”, so after some consideration I decided to dedicate a special section of “Today’s Fine Food” to recreate some of the not-so-fine food found in vintage advertising and cookbooks that continues to exert an odd kind of attraction on me.
Of course the focus of ths blog will remain on making as good food as possible. But you only can appreciate the good, if you know the bad, so there will be occasional counterpoints like this.
This is a recipe from an ad on page 45 of the 11th February 1970 edition of The Australian Women’s Weekly.
It uses the infamous SPAM. Unfortunately SPAM is not available in my neck of the woods, so I had to settle for “Danpak luncheon meat” which appears to be made by the same producer as Tulip.
- 340 g (12 oz) luncheon meat
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 2 onions, chopped
- 200 g canned pineapples
- 125 ml pineapple juice from the can
- 125 ml white vinegar
- 125 ml water
- 100 g brown sugar
- 75 ml Heinz barbecue sauce
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch, mixed with some water.
- Vegetable oil
Cook the rice in advance to your liking. Preheat the oven to 120 degrees. Separate pineapple pieces from the juice. In a saucepan or large skillet sauté onions and pepper in vegetable oil for a few minutes. Add water, pineapple juice, vinegar, sugar and barbecue sauce and blend until the sugar has dissolved. Add cornstarch and stir to thicken, then blend in the pineapple piceces.
Cut the luncheon meat into slices and arrange with the rice on an ovenproof serving plate. Dress with sauce and heat for 10 to 15 minutes in the oven, uncovered.
The recipe serves 0 to 15 people, depending on your personal level of masochism.
And how was it?
Let’s put it this way: I’ve had worse. But seriously, this is some of the worst home cooking I have ever experienced. The sweet and sour sauce has that gloopy, sticky quality you can expect from the absolute worst of Chinese restaurants. The heated “meat” takes on a mushy texture that can only be described as disgraceful.
SPAM (or any luncheon meat for that matter) itself is actually fairly close to a kind of sausage known as Schinkenwurst in Germany, only a bit softer. As a cold cut on a slice of bread it is not too bad, I have to say. But once it is heated it changes into a revolting substance that is not improved the least bit by the addition of copious amounts of sweet and sour goo.