Walking in the Spam Shoes

Curt gave me a pair of Spam shoes.

Well, thongs. Rubber thongs. We used to call them flip-flops, until that became a political pejorative.

Bright yellow and blue Spam shoes. When you walk in them, in mud or sand, the word Spam is printed and left behind. Spam. Printed in reverse and backwards on the soles. Designed to leave little Spam ads in your wake.

I don't like Spam. Never have, never will. Lips that touch Spam will never touch mine, I used to say.

Used to say. Because Curt loves Spam. He only cooks it when I'm not in the house. Preferably out of state. But, even after more than 30 years of living with a Spam-loving spouse, I had never tasted it. Never tempted to eat it right out of the can, with a spoon, either, like some kid who recently wrote to Dear Abby or Dear Ann because his mother insisted he cook it first.

Just a year ago, I ended up tasting Spam. In about 30 recipes in about 60 minutes. At the Spam contest at the Big E. As a judge. I didn't ask for that assignment; I don't think it's part of my job description.

Suddenly, Spam Zucchini Bread, Spam Scalloped Potatoes, Stir Fry Spam, Spamburgers. Okay, I'll admit it, a couple of the Spam specials weren't too bad (I don't want Hormel hate mail). But I almost lost it on a couple of them. Pass the water. Quick.

Maybe if you grew up with Spam you'd like it. In fact, I guess, if you grow up with almost anything you'd like it.

I didn't grow up with Spam. Or Spaghetti-O's, either. Curt likes them, too. You'd think the butcher's son, who grew up over his parents' general store, would be pickier. Why not go downstairs and get a steak, for example? Or a pork chop?

That's what I grew up with. Every night. A readily identifiable piece of meat on our plate, along with a potato (baked, usually), and a vegetable, and a salad. Every night.

My mother wasn't big on cooking. Cherry pie for George Washington's birthday. Home made french fries in the fall. Corned beef for St. Patrick's Day. Turkey for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. No hams. Heck, no hamburgers. No casseroles. The closest we came was at lunch, when we got creamed tuna over soda crackers.

And, I admit, I didn't know what a peanut butter and jelly sandwich was until my daughter was two.

But this was the midwest, and good pork and beef, lamb and veal, were readily available. Really good pork and beef, lamb and veal.

We did have chicken. But my parents didn't consider pizza, for example, real food. And I didn't have pasta or spaghetti, didn't know what lasagne was, until college.

Dessert was ice cream. Or pound cake with frozen raspberries over it. Or, jello.

My Norwegian friend, Suzy, recently sent me the Lutheran Church Women's Cookbook to remind me of our Scandinavian upbringings.

Every recipe in the book was jello. Company jello, every day jello, wedding reception jello. Well, you get the idea. Someday I'll share a couple of them to see if you enjoy the humor.

Maybe they're not funny, unless you're Scandinavian. I say that, because my friend also sent me the book, "Swedish and Norwegian Humor and Other Oxymorons." I think that was the title; close enough anyway.

She also sent me the Iowa application to be a lutefisk inspector. Lutefisk is another food I don't eat. If you don't know what it is by now, don't bother figuring it out. You probably don't want any. Unless your name is Sven, Arne, Knut or Ole.

It ranks right up there along with liver. And Spam.

And, Spam shoes.

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