Juan Malo & Corned Beef, Unrationed
from the legends of juan malo
Craig Santos Perez
from Uncle –
Hash is the Perfect High. That's corned beef hash for any law enforcement reading this poem. But if you recently purchased 12-ounce cans of Hormel Corned Beef in "natural juices" on Guam, they may contain an animal de-worming drug called ivermectin. The canned corned meat called corned beef is not corned beef at all but simply a very poor preserved beef made in South America and sold under the label "corned beef" (mainly imported from Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay). Corned beef has made great headway though, even in Guam's remotest villages. We eat it straight from the can. Or, spread corned beef on banana leaf; overlap suni leaves; place corned beef in center; add chopped onion; hold suni leaves together so a cup is formed; pour in coconut milk; close suni leaves; fold banana leaf; tie; bake for one hour in earth oven. Note: Extremely high in saturated fat. To reduce, replace up to half of coconut milk with whole milk. "A coconut a day will kill you." Conclusion: foods that contribute to macronutrient intake are high in fat, processed, have low nutrient density, and are unlike foods traditionally consumed on Guam. Hence the Chamorro special: fried rice, two eggs (any style), two slices of bacon, two slices of Portuguese or Vienna Sausage, two slices of Spam, and one corned beef hash patty: $9.95. The Soy Corned Beef, served at Simply Food, Guam's only full-on vegetarian restaurant (located next to the Seventh Day Adventist Church and bookstore), is close to the "real thing." After the war, many Chamorros stayed in refugee camps; Chamorros who served as cooks in the U.S. Navy prepped the daily mass feedings: salvaged Japanese food, including rice, and American's excess C and D rations (Spam, corned beef and hash, powdered eggs and Navy issue coffee with cream and sugar). My grandmother says it was "like manna from heaven." Relevance: develop culturally specific nutrition education to reduce chronic disease risk factors and encourage positive health behaviors. For the past few years, I've avoided Corned Beef out of pure food snobbery (and a hint of fear). All this changed last summer when I met my future wife, who's Hawaiian, and she seduced me with breakfasts of Corned Beef Hash, hapa rice, and two eggs (any style). My consumption of her body has gathered pace too. Now, it's no longer a guilty secret: canned meat is "warrior food." So we always keep several cans of corned beef in our cupboard for "emergencies." Libby's roots go back to 1868, when Archibald McNeill and brothers Arthur and Charles Libby began selling beef packed in brine. In 1875, the Chicago-based company Libby, McNeill & Libby began to can its meat in unique trapezoid-shaped cans. Modernization, Global Food Trade, Imported Foods, Convenience, Affordability, Taste, and Prestige. Obesity is a fairly new phenomenon in Micronesia; the rise began as U.S. subsidies reached us in the 1960's and 1970's. The average households here spend 38% of our income on imported foods. Just out of curiosity, I wonder if the global rise in obesity will lead to a shift in the global burden of disease? Though perhaps it's not so easy to "smash ancient civilizations to make them fit into cans of Corned Beef and Western Economic Theories of Development." But you know what my uncle always says: buy global but cook local style che'lu. On Sundays after mass, my grandmother would make corned beef hash patties, coated with seasoned flour and fried with onions, garlic and chilis; served with white rice, and two eggs (any style). We thought she stole this food from the children of the white gods, so me, my sister, my brother, and my cousins ate without making a sound. But that was Guam and we were grateful for any food we had. Now I live in the affluent west and can afford to shop at Down to Earth in Kailua. Nevertheless, I have fond memories of those Corned Beef Sundays, my Indigenous Grandmother, and her heroic efforts to make us believe we were the best fed children in all of Uncle's Empire.
|© Copyright 2012 Craig Santos Perez & Trout.