Episode 161 – The Complicated History of SPAM with Gabrielle Berbey

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Oh SPAM…the delectable, delicious soft pink slab of pork meat so ubiquitous to Filipino and Filipino American weekend breakfast meals. You love it fried, crispy, maybe with a sprinkle of sugar, served with a warm heap of garlic rice and egg. It tickles our taste buds and tummies with such delight, but also clogs our arteries with fat and cholesterol…one of the sinful contradictions our Filipino American lives deal with constantly. How did this beloved processed part the pig become so commonplace in the Philippines and many other parts of the world?

The US military, of course, is the short answer. Introduced to many parts of Asia as a result of US military occupation, SPAM is also synonymous with American imperialism. The story of SPAM goes deeper and in many directions. In this TFAL episode, we spoke to Gabrielle Berbey, a journalist with WNYC who recently did an podcast series on the history of SPAM. We talk about SPAM’s rise with and for the US empire, labor disputes and global migration, and the unhealthy, yet alluring, consumption of it in our communities. Beforehand, of course, we discuss our complex relationship with SPAM as well as our other favorite canned foods.

Check out The Experiment’s podcast series on SPAM here.

Listen or download the episode through the embedded player on this page, find us on Mixcloud or subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts here. And for folks on Spotify, you can take a listen to us here.

How much do you love or hate SPAM? Let us know by leaving a voicemail at (805) 394-TFAL or email us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com.

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