Spam Lite

Sick of reading about heart health? Imagine you're the brand-manager for Crisco or Spam—it must be like being Jayden James Spears Federline at a supermarket checkout line. Or, at least that's what I've had to conclude after going through my most recent crate of work mail. Because guess what was in it? A sample of Crisco brand olive oil.

Yup, Crisco, excoriated in the national press for making biscuits light and fluffy while making arteries decidedly less so. And that's not all—there was also Spam "Lite", in a convenient single-serving pack. I thought heavy was inherent in the definition of Spam. After doing a little research, I guess I now understand the logic of these products: Crisco means cooking oil in big swaths of the southeastern United States, so why lose the brand loyalty? Meanwhile, Spam "Lite" has evidently been around for years and years, the big news being that these 'single-serving' packets are newly available nationally.

In any event, in the interest of scientific inquiry and open-mindedness, I decided to do the logical thing: Fry the low-fat Spam in the Crisco olive oil, and enter a bold new era of science.

Now, I suppose I should reveal my background with Spam here. I grew up in New York City thirty years after World War II, so I have none. I understand that Spam saved Great Britain and the Russian army from starvation during the war and all, but other than that, the stuff creeps me out. There's something about the way the ham goo (it is just cheap ham in there, after all) clings to your tongue that I can't get past. As to my experience with Crisco, I keep a tub of it close at hand because, blended with some salt, is scours my precious cast-iron cookware like nothing else. But for cooking, I'm an olive oil, butter, and lard girl all the way. That said, I was pleasantly surprised with the taste of the Crisco extra virgin—it's herbal and a little brambly, and, at $5.49 for a 17-ounce bottle, is a lot better than I'd expect for inexpensive supermarket olive oil.

Spam sandwich

I put the Spam into a pan just as my husband walked through the kitchen. "What's going on here?" he asked. I explained. "Stand back, scary blogging," he concluded, retreating to the basement with his guitar. The oil didn't smoke nearly as much as I thought it would, and the "Lite" Spam popped and sputtered satisfyingly as it fried. Finally, the moment of truth: Spam on toast. I cut it into quarters, then bit in: A little bacony, a little crisp, a little warm—I've had worse. Then I had the idea of putting some Sriracha hot sauce on it: Good! Not my comfort food, but definitely recognizable as someone else's. Of course, all this frying and mayonnaise erased the heart-healthy premise all these products are based on, but I'll be damned if I was going eat a salad made of this stuff.

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