A salute to Spam

TRAVEL SMARTS

September 02, 2001|By Tricia Bishop

What's pink and squishy and was once called a war-time delicacy?

It's Spam, the "miracle meat in a can" that first hit supermarket shelves in 1937 and is now about to get its own museum. It seems the spiced ham -- hence, "Spam" -- is more popular than ever.

Set to open Sept. 15 in Austin, Minn., the Spam Museum pays tribute to one of the country's most-loved and most-loathed food products and the company that makes it: Hormel (whose Austin headquarters are about 100 miles south of Minneapolis). The museum will display old Spam ads, video of the famous Monty Python "Spam, Spam, Spam" skit and exhibits depicting Spam's role as a food staple during World War II.

Guests will get to test their Spam trivia, join a simulated Spam production line (rubber gloves and hair nets provided), watch the Spam Ballet and shop in the Spam gift shop.

These days, the combination of pressed ham and pork is more popular for its kitsch value than its taste. Spam is the subject of books and poems, and the main ingredient in annual sculpting contests in Colorado and Washington state. And yes, many people still eat it.

Admission to the museum at 1937 Spam Blvd. is free. Hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.

For more information, call 800-588-7726 or check out www.spam.com.

-- Tricia Bishop

SUGGESTED READING

* Spam-Ku: Tranquil Reflections on Luncheon Loaf , edited by John Cho (HarperPerennial Library; $8)

* Spam: A Biography, by Carolyn Wyman (Harvest Books; $15)

* The Spam Cookbook: Recipes From Main Street, edited by Linda Eggers (Longstreet Press; $6)

A GETAWAY FOR THE BIRDS

Bird lovers looking to get an end-of-season gander at their feathered favorites might want to spend a weekend at Mountain Lake in Pembroke, Va., 230 miles west of Richmond. The 2,600-acre resort is home to 87 recorded bird species and has compiled a "Birds of Mountain Lake" brochure including the birds sighted, their descriptions and a map of area birding trails.

Some of the species you can expect to see are the blue indigo bunting, the brown veery and the rose-breasted warbler. Autumn brings hawks and the occasional migrating eagle.

The resort offers boating, fishing, biking and 20 miles of hiking trails, along with nightly entertainment such as cookouts and karaoke.

Open daily through Oct. 27 and on weekends through Nov. 24.; closed through May 2. Rates begin at $150 per night. For more information, call 800-346-3334 or check out the Web site, www.mountainlakehotel.com. -- T.B.

Coloring book for strong stomachs

You might want to think twice before giving this coloring book to the kids.

The Roadkill U.S.A. Coloring and Activity Book (Ten Speed Press; $20) by Buck Peterson comes with brown, red and black crayons and explores what happens when the chicken (or rabbit or deer) doesn't quite cross the road.

Travel games include: "I Spy" (with the spied being a roadside carcass); "Connect the Dots" (revealing what's caught in little Billy's bicycle spokes); and "Find the Body Parts in the Gut Pile" (self-explanatory).

There's no sympathy for the dead here, just lots of instructions on how to color them using "various shades of red."

But then again, what would you expect from an author whose first book was The Original Road Kill Cookbook?

-- T.B.

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