Archive for December, 2012

SPAM: EAT OR DELETE?

I’ve been following lectures on DVD’s* here at home, while I drink my tea and eat a chocolate chip cookie, and in one of the talks, the professor discussed the history of Hormel Spam. In case you are not familiar with that kind of Spam, it is a canned luncheon meat that became popular in the late 1930’s and early ’40’s.

Since you are reading this on a computer, I know you have experience with the technical spam and it’s sure not the one you eat, but rather delete.

I was very interested in the professor’s information about the food, Spam, because I am from the generation that ate a lot Spam all through World War II. We ate it with our eggs for breakfast, in sandwiches, and even as a main course sometimes for dinner. Right now, I have a can in my pantry in case of emergency.

If you weren’t around during WWII, maybe you don’t know that fresh meat was hard to come by for many communities. Of course, many other foods were in short supply as well. Sugar was rationed. We had books of stamps that were like coupons so that could get sugar. My mother used ours mostly for canning the fruit that we would go out and pick from farmers who allowed that activity.

People had Victory Gardens when they had enough dirt-space to grow fruits and vegetables. Mostly they grew vegetables. My parents only had enough room to grow strawberries in a small patch, but those berries were delicious.

We ate a lot of starch back then–potatoes, rice, spaghetti, breads. Funny enough, not as many people were obese as they are today, even at that. My family had access to live chickens from a local farm and we killed and dressed them ourselves. (Nasty job and the feathers really stink. I know because even a child could pluck feathers.)

Not so many years ago, I told my mother that I don’t like stuffed peppers. She said, “I overdid it, didn’t I?” I replied that she did. Because it was cheap, she served it quite often. Her green peppers were stuffed with meat that she ground herself (not Spam) and then mixed with breadcrumbs. Not exactly what I would call a gourmet dish.

I hope I didn’t disrupt your pleasure in eating your cookie with my explanation of the chicken, but at least I didn’t describe the entire distasteful process of preparing the bird for cooking. It was always delicious once it was ready to eat. And, it was a lot better than rabbit, which we often endured. You can thank me for not telling you how that was prepared for cooking.

* Great Courses are available from The Teaching Company
and I highly recommend you get their catalog

COMING NEXT: Famous Groups of Women, which includes information about the interesting Spam Girls as well as others.

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SPAIN IS A TRIP

Boy, looking at photos sure brings back the memories, doesn’t it? I got out old trip photos (the ones printed on paper) to look at while I drink my apple-cinnamon tea and munch on a chocolate chip cookie. What I’m viewing right now are photos from a trip that began in Spain. We had flown into Barcelona where we would begin a long cruise.

We, together with another couple, spent the night in Barcelona and when we got ready to get into the cab to go to the ship, we were forced to take separate cabs as we had too much luggage. Not being together did not make us too happy, but things got worse.

When we came to a roundabout, with a huge fountain in the center, the cab in front, that contained our friends, went barreling off to the right, and our cabbie sent us, on two wheels veering off to the left. While screaming at the two-wheel maneuver, I am also pointing and screaming, “Mi amigos, mi amigos,” which is about the extent of
my Spanish. Our driver kept right on in the direction he was headed and shortly pulled into an enormous empty lot next to a Russian freighter. Somehow we got him to understand that the ship we were looking for was one meant for tourists.

He shed rubber as he zoomed out of the lot and headed off on down the road. By this time, I am hysterical and my husband has either dozed off or died. His eyes are closed. But, shortly, we did arrive at our destination. Our friends were nowhere in sight and when they finally showed up, in the nick of time, we learned that their cabbie had taken them to the airport. They also experienced a bit of a language problem.

None the worse for wear, we cruised on. This little escapade did give us and our other table mates plenty to talk about for the rest of the trip. We had decided that our “mi amigos” event would be perfect for a Seinfeld show so we crated many scenarios. They were never officially presented, however.

I may never forget our little side trip to the Russian freighter and as long as things turn out all right, those unexpected events are really the most memorable.

By the way, we loved beautiful Barcelona. (Don’t forget to pronounce the “r” as “th.”)

I’d love to hear about some of your unscheduled trip events.

COMING NEXT: Spam : Eat or Delete?

CRUISING IN A STORM

Because I’m drinking English Breakfast tea today with my chocolate chip cookie, I thought about the cruise we took across the English Channel back in 1994. It was the week of June 6, the 50th anniversary of the landing on Normandy beach during World War II.

Our cruise ship traveled from England, where we had been touring in London, to the coast of France. Now, the English Channel is known for its rough waters, but they were so rough on this trip that my husband and I and the couple traveling with us were probably the only people unaffected by the rocking and rolling. Lucky us!

The ship needed to dock in the closest port to ride out the storm so it headed for the beach at Normandy. Unfortunately, because the big anniversary celebration was going on, there were no slips available for our ship. Consequently, we cruised perpendicular to the land with the waves broadsiding us most of the time.

At one point, the four of us started down about six wide steps when the ship lurched and the glass cases from the gift stores directly ahead of us tore across the hallway and crashed. Talk about providing excitement. As you can imagine, we were almost the only ones in the dining room for lunch.

Today, when I was thinking about a title for this blog and landed on the one above, I had to look up the word “cruise.” (By now you know my love for the dictionary!) The first definition is–to sail or ride about from place to place, as for pleasure or in search of something.

Sometimes things in our lives can seem like a storm, tossing us this way and that, and so my wish for you today is to cruise happily through every storm.

For more information on D-Day and the landings on Normandy Beach,there are two good sources that I found: http://www.army.mil/d-day/ or an article in the International Business Times on June 5, 2012.

COMING NEXT: Spain Is A Trip