After a helicopter carrying supplies was shot down, army chef Corporal Liam Francis was faced with six weeks of keeping hungry troops satisfied with tins of the famous, some might say infamous, chopped pork and ham product.
In the best traditions of the army, Francis managed to provide a wide-ranging menu based just on Spam…
“I was surprised what we could do – sweet and sour Spam, Spam fritters, Spam carbonara, Spam stroganoff, Spam stir-fry … ”
For a month and a half the supply line remained disrupted, during which the ingenuity of the 26-year-old, his co-workers and the patience of the troops was put to the test before fresh supplies finally got through.
Francis said: “On the first day I prepared battered Spam sausages, chips and curry sauce. The sergeant major said it was the best meal he had ever had – he’d never seen morale so high…”
With helicopter flights now far more regular, fresh food is getting into most of the forward operating bases in Afghanistan…
Spam first arrived in the UK from the US following the passing of the lend-lease act by the US government in 1941. The aim of the act was to aid allied forces in Britain and Russia during the second world war.
Spam was an interesting addition to the diet of a public struggling by on rations, but as lampooned in the Python sketch, Britain has had a love-hate relationship with the product.
My wife will shoot me for saying this; but – I like spam. It was our most reliable animal protein source aside from family-raised chickens during World War 2. Fortunately, my Mom was as innovative a cook as Corporal Francis – so, it worked.