Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Samantha and Bryan Welch huddled together in the Home and Hobby building at the Cuyahoga County Fair. The top two finishers in last year's Spam cooking contest, the Parma couple was hoping for another big win. Samantha, last year's champion with a creamy spinach spam puff, isn't allowed to compete so she's here to cheer on her husband's prospects with his Italiano Spam balls.
"We get a little more into it than we should," she says. "August means Spam around our house."
The 38 entrants to this year's contest figured out a way to stick the processed ham-like product into just about anything you could think of. Spam quiche (see above), Spam cheeseballs, sauerkraut Spam balls, golden Spam nuggets, Spam salsa, Spam kabobs, pickled Spam and the list goes on.
Spam is pretty easy to work with, but it is finicky, entrants say. For instance, don't try to grind it. It will just fall apart. Jim Lewandowski, who calls himself "Fair Guy," says he thinks about how he can adopt other recipes to include Spam throughout the year. His Spam pizza dip exists because of an appetizer his aunt brought over earlier this year.
This year's winner: Patricia Clark, who made Spam summer rolls — or, as they are known in Vietnam, Spam goi cuon.
Tell me there's a better way to spend an afternoon. The fair continues through Sunday. The spam contest may be over, but there are plenty of other things to check out. For a full list, check out the fair's Web site.