Many uses for SPAM, not spam

The Covington News - - OPINION - BAR­BARA MOR­GAN COLUM­NIST

If you were SPAM, you’d be 76 years old this year, and plenty of jokes sug­gest that what comes out of a can of SPAM is about that old.

It’s some­times de­scribed as mys­tery meat, but the in­gre­di­ents are clearly stated: chopped pork shoul­der and ham, along with potato starch to bind the in­gre­di­ents and lots and lots of sodium ni­trate (salt) to pre­serve it, maybe for­ever.

It’s a re­ally good source of cheap pro­tein – 13 grams in a 3.5-ounce serv­ing – but it’s also got 27 grams of fat in a serv­ing that size, in­clud­ing 10 grams of sat­u­rated fat.

The com­pany has no an­swer for how SPAM got its name. It’s made in Austin, Minn., where there’s an an­nual cel­e­bra­tion, as well as in Austin, Texas.

In­ter­est­ingly, Hawai­ians are among the largest per capita con­sumers of SPAM, and it shows up on the menu at both McDon­ald’s and Burger King there as a fa­vorite break­fast item, “SPAM, eggs and rice.”

Hawai­ians par­tic­u­larly like SPAM Musubi (SPAM and rice wrapped in dried sea­weed) and some­thing called Army Base Stew. It uses SPAM, onion, gar­lic, leeks, spinach or kale, firm tofu, baked beans, Chile pep­pers, a Korean red pep­per paste and ramen noo­dles with­out their sea­son­ing.

Surely, a doc­tor must give per­mis­sion be­fore it can be con­sumed!

SPAM.com, of course, fea­tures a host of reci- pes: Ap­ple SPAM Turnovers. SPAM-Chi­ladas. Ba­con-wrapped SPAM bites. SPAM and Gnoc­chi Soup. SPAM French Toast Sticks. SPAM Wal­dorf Salad.

Ap­par­ently, SPAM can be scram­bled, stir­fried, lay­ered, kebab-d, cubed, fried, put in a bun, wrapped, sauced and com­bined into as many dif­fer­ent recipes as there are imag­i­na­tions. I re­mem­ber it baked with a mus­tard sauce or sliced and fried.

What I would re­ally want to see canned for­ever in a can of SPAM is elec­tronic spam that shows up in your email ac­count. (There’s also spam that shows up on smart phones, too.)

My ex­pe­ri­ence is that even if there’s a spam fil­ter in place on your com­puter, some das­tardly stuff still gets through.

It’s named for SPAM, and that’s a dis­ser­vice to an en­tirely ed­i­ble food prod­uct for any­one who’s not a veg­e­tar­ian.

Just last week, one that was not caught by my spam fil­ter ar­rived in my email writ­ten in a script en­tirely in­de­ci­pher­able to me. Maybe it was writ­ten in He­brew? Ara­bic? It wasn’t Chi­nese.

Tell me, how can that hap­pen?

Elec­tronic spam is un­so­licited over­tures sent in­dis­crim­i­nately to vast num­bers of peo­ple at one time. Wikipedia cites “con­ser­va­tive es­ti­mates” that say spam ac­counts for 80 per­cent to 85 per­cent of all email in the world.

It costs the senders lit­tle if any­thing to send, but re­cip­i­ents pay for it in the time it takes to deal with it and in the headaches – and more – it can cause.

A great deal of spam con­tains links to viruses or ma­li­cious soft­ware.

Some of you may re­mem­ber a col­umn a few months ago when I de­tailed the agony of hav­ing had my email ac­count phished.

All of my stored email ad­dresses then re­ceived pleas os­ten­si­bly from me as I was trapped in the Philip­pines and needed money. I wasn’t, and I didn’t.

Re­cently, the sub­ject line from one piece of spam in­formed me: “Seven hun­dred and Fifty Thou­sand usd de­posited to you from western union. Send your name.” (No way, buddy.)

An­other: “HELLO. You Have Been Cho­sen As a Ben­e­fi­ciary to claim 1000000,00 From the Bay­lord Fam­ily.” (Right.) Then: “Your MAIL ID won One Mil­lion Ster­lings in our Bri­tishS­plash. re­ply Name/Town.” (Liar.)

“Ur­gent. I am Mr. Young Chang, I need your part­ner­ship in a busi­ness trans­ac­tion worth $18.2m USD.” (You dream big, I thought.)

“I have a prof­itable bus. to share with you,” said a dif­fer­ent fel­low.

He could have been some­one called “Mr. Joseph,” who asked: “Did you re­ceive my last email?”

Or maybe it was: “from Dr. abu Ahmed, Bill and Xchange Man­ager, Bank of Africa De­vel­op­ment.”

I had an “In­vi­ta­tion – Please Com­plete Your Pro­file – FROM: World­wide Reg­istry for Bri­tish Pro­fes­sion­als.” (No.)

Fi­nally: “Ur­gent Re­sponse Needed, - Dear Friend, This mes­sage might meet you in ut­most sur­prise; how­ever … .” (By now I’m not sur­prised at any­thing.)

Th­ese peo­ple are called spam­mers, first cousins to scam­mers, and they, of course, didn’t come to be un­til the In­ter­net opened to the pub­lic in the 1990s.

They com­prise a detestable sub­set of so­ci­ety that thinks cre­at­ing havoc, ly­ing, de­fraud­ing and steal­ing is an ac­cept­able pur­pose for a hu­man be­ing.

The best ad­vice is not to take spam per­son­ally – as if you’ve been sin­gled out as a sucker – don’t open it for any rea­son, and don’t send money.

Use it to buy a bet­ter spam fil­ter.

Bar­bara Mor­gan is a Cov­ing­ton res­i­dent with a back­ground in news­pa­per jour­nal­ism, state govern­ment and pol­i­tics. She can be reached at barbm2158@gmail.com.

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