Up until this week, I had experience with spam of only one variety, and it was not the kind that involves “pork with ham.”
But shortly before my adventure with ham-type Spam, I had a curious run-in with scam-type spam.
Spammers, as you have probably noticed, want all the websites in the world to display their spammy comments in case you—and by “you” I mean a very daft and gullible person, not actually you, but spammers don’t know the difference—happen by, thus increasing the chances that you will send them all your money Western Union.
Although they can slap a sinister URL on any comment, they can’t post identical comments over and over, because today’s spam filters are hip to that jive. So to help them spam more efficiently, they often take a normal-sounding comment—something complimentary, usually along the lines of, “Wow, great article! I really agree with a lot of the points you’ve made”—and have a computer replace certain words using a thesaurus.
But most spammers aren’t native English speakers and don’t have the benefit of childhood anti-thesaurus warnings, of English teachers insisting that one must never select an unfamiliar replacement word lest one incite a riotous Three’s Company-esque situation fueled by slightly-incorrect word choice. Spammers don’t understand (or care) that it doesn’t make sense to turn “this is a great post” into “this is a great publish.” Changing it up helps them get their comments past spam filters, and the mangled comments often get posted for all the world to ignore.
Those of you who work in anything Web-related know how annoying and pointless those comments are, and we all tire of the constant vigil. But now and then, you can turn it into a fun game where you try to reconstruct the original statement. (It’s possible there’s a requisite level of nerdiness one must achieve before this qualifies as a “fun game,” I guess, but believe me, it’s great.)
So here’s a puzzle for you. Recently, a site I work on was hit with six versions of the same jumbled message, each with a different combination of replacement words. Most of it was easy to solve. For instance, when the spammer wrote, “I did some spider’s web surfing and organize this blog,” he clearly meant he had done some Web surfing and found the blog, because to found something is to organize it. (That is, if you overlook the fact that “found” in that context is obviously the past tense of “find.” English is tough.) But there’s one sentence that I just. cannot. figure. out.
I firm sooner than particular of this blog ask for up and it is really incredible.
I indisputable by personality of this blog ask for up and it is quite incredible.
I indisputable not later than something like a collapse of this blog ask for up and it is really incredible.
I firm next to way of this blog restore a record up and it is in point of fact incredible.
I indisputable next to particular of this blog ask for up and it is quite incredible.
I decided not later than something like a collapse of this blog restore a record up and it is quite incredible.
What…what does it mean? It’s in my brain now. It’s just trapped in there, forever, filed under Questions I Will Never Know the Answers To. I hate that folder.
Speaking of the other kind of spam, though—Spam, that is—I had, as I said, never tried it until this week. I have avoided it, because first of all, it’s meat in a can. I feel like there doesn’t need to be a second-of-all. Any reservations anyone has about any kind of canned meat are completely well-founded. (Or maybe well-organized! In which case they’re probably in a big red folder marked Reservations about Canned Meat, just behind Questions I Will Never Know the Answers To. I hate that whole filing cabinet.)
As I was trying to work out the Unsolvable Comment Puzzle, I started thinking about the word “spam,” and then I started thinking about the food Spam, and a single, irrevocable thought occurred to me:
Someone likes it.
There are people out there who eat Spam, because if there weren’t, Hormel would stop making it. Some people probably love it. And I started to wonder who.
Apparently, Hawaii cannot get enough of Spam, for instance. Huh.
So I did a little research and found that the world has a lot of nice things to say about spam musubi, which is spam served with sushi rice and nori. And naturally, I started to wonder what was so great about it.
But I was hesitant. I don’t even like ham, so I wasn’t sure what my best-case scenario was with Spam.
However, I sort of liked the suggestion that it could be combined with sushi ingredients, partly because sushi and Spam have one important thing in common: people who have never tried it are squicked the hell out by the very idea.
If something as tasty as sushi can overcome that kind of reputation, then maybe, I thought, I should check Spam out just to make sure it’s terrible.
I asked my friend Rich, who lived in Hawaii for a while growing up and also doesn’t like ham, and he said he hated Spam. I asked my friend Jenny, who has eaten lots of foods I haven’t eaten, and she said it was pretty okay and just tasted like hot dogs. I asked my mom, and she said her father used to eat it all the time but that isn’t much of an endorsement because he was in the Army and as I recall, he only liked to cook terrible Army foods at home, like shit on a shingle.
But by that time it was too late because I had already bought the stupid Spam.
So I opened the can and splorched the wet pink meatbrick out onto the counter and tried to ignore the dog-food smell and urged John to keep his distance because he already had a laundry list of justified concerns about this experiment. And although it is “fully cooked” and “ready to eat,” I did not endeavor to sample the Spam. Instead, I sliced it as thin as I could and rushed it to a hot pan with some sesame oil and I waited until it stopped being so ghastly and pink and then we each cut off a tiny piece and tried it. John was brave. He tried it first.
“Tastes like salt,” he said.
“And… bacon?” I said.
“It’s not that bad,” we agreed.
I was pleased to find that all the congealed-aspic qualities of the meat had vanished in the frying process, and that what remained was just crispy salty breakfasty meat. Emboldened, I rolled it up with some fresh pineapple, super-thin slices of Serrano pepper, scallions, and mayonnaise. And you know what? You’re not going to believe this, but I think you should try it.
The Spam gives the roll a salty bacon-ham flavor (especially when it’s sliced as thin as this, because every part of the meat-like substance is crisp) that provides a shockingly pleasant counterpoint to sweet-acidic pineapple, and it tastes… I can’t believe I’m saying this… it tastes pretty terrific.
I also made a roll with Spam and cream cheese, and that was good, but nothing beats the Spam-pineapple-hot-hot-pepper combo.
So I guess John and I both owe Spam an apology. In fact, I might have to come up with another nickname for all these unwanted blog comments. Or rather, I power own to rise with another nickname for all these friendless weblog observes.