Crossroads Lounge to host first SPAM recipe contest
Appeal Staff Writer
SPAM: Iconic American luncheon meat or unholy jumble of jellied pig parts compressed into a can?
Depends on who you ask, but it’s tough to argue with a shelf-life that rivals that of the purchaser. And with SPAM’s staggering durability, it’s no wonder the foie gras of gross-out cuisine has found its niche as the official ration and staple of the natural disaster.
But one doesn’t have to be floating down a flooded cul-de-sac in a canoe or waiting on the porch for FEMA to arrive in order to crack open and enjoy a tin of what a small-but-certain cultural subset considers to be the caviar of the stockyards.
Crossroads Lounge is holding a SPAM cook-off Saturday at 5 p.m., with the winning chef walking out with a $100 cash prize as well as a pretty notable addition to their résumé.
“It’s a stupid idea,” laughs Stu Miller, who co-owns the bar with his wife, Dawn. “But we’ve been getting a huge response. We’ve already got 12 cooks signed up for the contest.”
Miller, a Vietnam veteran, says he was first introduced to the gel-covered Hormel delicacy during combat missions, when he used to take a can of it with him on patrols.
Crossroads bartender Lynn Horning is entering her sweet-and-sour SPAM into the mix. She says she’s been using her children to perfect the recipe. “I don’t actually eat it,” she says. “At least not on purpose. It’s like opening up a can of deep-fried cat food or something,” she says, gagging.
The contest rules are simple: Show up with your best SPAM dish by 4:45 p.m. The bar’s customers will be the judges.
Miller says there will be receptacles available should any of the entries not agree with anyone’s delicate or otherwise potted pork-averse palates.
“If you don’t like it, spit it out,” he suggests.
The ultimate goal, of course, is to create a dish that is somehow greater than the sum of its parts, whatever those parts may actually be.
But what is the proper drink to accompany the savory pink meat?
“A nice merlot?” suggests Dawn Miller with a smirk.
Stu Miller holds up a recently purchased can of the gross national product and explains the origins of the contest.
“My wife asked what I wanted for dinner, and I told her macaroni and cheese with SPAM. Some of the customers overheard, and the thing just kind of evolved from there.”
“This is gonna be big,” he adds, promising to make the SPAM cookoff a yearly event. “This is just the beginning.”
n Contact reporter Peter Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1215.
If You Go
What: Crossroads Lounge SPAM Cookoff
When: Saturday, 5 p.m.; Contestants show up by 4:45 p.m. with a pre-cooked dish. There is no entry fee for this contest.
Where: Crossroads Lounge, 300 E. Winnie Lane
Prizes: $100 first place; $50 second place; a six-pack of SPAM for third place.