No Mofurkey!




When we stopped making the turkey last year, we had the best thanksgiving ever. We had it catered from Wakonda from the inimitibable Chef George. In fact, when you take in the food costs and time, it pretty much is a draw. We were having our front door neighbors over. It was our first Thanksgiving without blood relations. At around 5 in the evening, I drove over and picked up 6 neatly packaged bags in cardboard boxes. Driving home, the smells were otherworldly. We unpacked, put out our good (and only) china, and popped a bottle of wine. The neighbors came, and we had the best Thanksgiving meal that I have ever had (except for a visit to my college roommate’s family in Philadelphia in 1987, where I ate enough for three, and then lounged around for five hours alternately watching football and a Star Trek marathon, before eating AGAIN).

There was no Star Trek last year, but there was homemade cranberry sauce with perfectly tart fresh cranberries in a jammy gel that had never had the shape of a cylinder. The stuffing could have been a main course by itself. I could have lifted the gravy boat and guzzled the brown ambrosia. The mashed potatoes were really smashed with the evidence quite clear from the non-uniform pearls of pure earthy flavor. Washed down with a Gewürztraminer, followed by pumpkin pie a la mode and serious fresh ground coffee. Oh, the turkey was perfect.

The clean up involved putting away the leftovers in the packages they came in. No hours of back breaking labor for a 5-15% chance of a turkey mishap (observation from about 25 Thanksgivings as an adult). That bad luck turkey is a mofurkey which in its many manifestations is alternately unevenly cooked, over-done (usually due to relying on the popup signal designed by lawyers), or generally associated with some misfortune (this year, a nephew with second degree burns, have heard stories of houses burning down). No, we completely avoided the mofurkey last year by outsourcing. It wasn’t just the meal we outsourced -it was the stress and the work on a day that no one should work. We could concentrate on the giving of thanks and enjoying each other’s company. What did we do for Thanksgiving this year? We ate jja-jjang myun at a seriously great place in Bayside, Queens. No mofurkey!

SPAM -also known as the food of the gods

spamShown is a can of SPAM, which took a big hit during the nineties after junk e-mail (about p3n1s 3nlarg3m3nt, p0rn, and millions of dollars stuck in an account in Nigeria) was named after it. Fact is, for Koreans of a certain age, it meant not just sustenance, but luxury. During the Korean War, when hunger struck the fleeing and bombed out Korean population, SPAM in the form of government issue C-rations, was a treasure more dear than chocolate. I remember that it was very expensive, much more so per pound than fresh meat, and to give a case of it was the kind of thing you gave at weddings of very important relatives. That or the cans of pineapple rings, but I digress. 

I suspect it had to do with the fact that it goes so well with cold rice. Sliced thin and fried in its own juices (and fat) on a grill to a crispiness on both sides, a slice of SPAM gives instant flavor to a bowl of leftover cold rice in ways that cannot be described. It is comfort food that is existential, bringing rush of memories of childhood when as a child of privilege in Korea, I was fed not only the finest fruits and vegetables, but meat, and the best meat in the form of SPAM. 

I googled its shelf life, and most reports come back that as long as it has kept its vacuum, its probably still good to eat (link). Meaning as long as you keep it in a cool dry place, you can keep it for years, possibly decades. 

Bachelor mock-fried rice:

cold rice from Chinese takeout, butter, soy sauce, sesame seeds (optional), black pepper, two fried eggs, spam. Melt butter into the cold rice in a skillet. Drizzle soy sauce. Separate pan, fry two eggs over easy and enough slices of spam for your man appetite. Put done eggs on rice and mix with spoon until eggs are fragmented. Put spam on side in bowl. Season with sesame seeds and black pepper. Go to TV and enjoy.