Spam and chitlins are having an uptick this recession and that can tell us likely how we are doing and will do in the months ahead.
Like a lot of people I thought chitlin’ was only for black folk. I was surprised when I sat down to eat with a group of women friends to see a group of white people come in for the chittlins as well. Folks laughed when I looked surprised. Turns out that in the town of Natchitoches, Louisiana chitlins is where the races get together and have fun eating.
Most people maintain liking chitlins is part culture and part thrift. During hard times, chittlins tasted good and were cheap eats. They became habit, a tasty habit that continued. There are even places where you can get instructions on how to eat them and what they are all about.
Chitterlings are pork intestines, not found in many restaurants but are solid fare in Southern country kitchens. It’s important to get them right because fecal matter, if left in the intestinal area, can cause painful diarrhea and stomach cramps. They need special fixing, for sure.
Magnolia Diner has chitlins on the menu on Thursdays, so the place has people coming in and out for their chitlin’ fix. They prepare them for takeout, for sitdown, and for standing room only at the register as some people can hardly wait to eat them so they stand right there as friends in front get their fare. Louisianans like chitlins and when times get tough they line up even more than they would ordinarily.
That American standard Spam, topic of nighttime jokes and all, is back routine on family menus these days. The Spam website shows the varieties of Spam with menus as well. A formal definition, given by a university group, is this “SPAM is a type of canned, processed pork luncheon meat made by Geo. A. Hormel and Company”
Spam in Hawaii is routine fare, with rice and macaroni on the side. This is the favorite dish of Barack Obama when he visits there. You can get a video and information about the President of the United States and all about his love for Spam and what it looks like on the Hawaiian menu at the Huffington Post here. Those who venture outside tourist areas are sure to see food carts around where locals hang out and order misubi, which is spam and rice slammed together, or a plate lunch with rice, and potato or macaroni salad with two slices of Spam. Yum. Ask a native of Hawaii the most prevalent or representative food in Hawaii, and that person is likely to tell you, “it’s Spam.”
These two foods, chitlins and Spam, are the signs of the times, and according to reports they are increasing in favor these days. So perhaps they will become the economic weather vane of the country, and we can track how well it is doing in recovery from the recession by tracking chitlin customers and sales of Spam.