Nostalgia, as the saying goes, just isn’t what it used to be. This long, hot summer has evoked many familiar reminiscences, not least the drought summer of 1976. There’s even something vaguely nostalgic about an England semi-final exit, with echoes of 1990 and the ‘football’s coming home’ summer of 1996.
The Royal Air Force is celebrating its first 100 years and the Buckingham Palace fly- over was one of the summer’s more memorable spectaculars – something, of course, we Lincolnshire residents can get for free as planes of all sorts fill our skies. Whilst the RAF may have arrived in time to save us from invasion in 1940, it wasn’t able to spare us from Spam, which slipped under the radar from the United States and into our kitchens in 1937. Spam, taking its name from the contraction of ‘spiced ham’, quickly gained popularity during the war years and after the war we even gained a licence to make it here in the UK.
Spam has always been a figure of foodie fun. Wartime soldiers derided it, labelling it ‘meat that failed the physical’. Margaret Thatcher ironically referred to it as a ‘wartime delicacy’ and Monty Python’s classic sketch pilloried Spam’s post-war ubiquity – giving rise to our modern term ‘spam’ for unwanted emails.
But what to cook with Spam? It has been suggested that the best thing to do with Spam is remove it from the can, throw it in the bin and eat the can instead. A little harsh perhaps, but it shows how our mock-distain for Spam continues.
There is, of course, one place where Spam remains strong in the memory: Spam fritters. Once a staple of school dinners and mid-week teas, the Spam fritter can still bring a nostalgic smile to the lips.
This recipe adds a spicy crust to the fritter and it has to be served, of course, with Spam’s classic accompaniment of egg and chips, perhaps with a Vera Lynn record playing on the gramophone.
Yes, nostalgia is just what it’s always been.
Ingredients (serves 4):
400g tin Spam
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp mixed herbs
Blitz the breadcrumbs with all the herbs and spices to ensure they are combined well.
Slice the Spam into 8 equal slices. Dip in flour, then dunk in the beaten egg and coat in the spiced breadcrumbs – a ‘double dip’ will produce a thicker crust.
Shallow fry until crisp and golden on each side.