I was talking Spam with Jim West on Thursday.
Jim is older than I am, but he’s not much older, so we both spent time as kids getting to know Spam.
For those of you who didn’t grow up in modest circumstances (yes, I’m talking about my 14-year-old daughter, Emma), I shall attempt to explain Spam for you.
Spam is meat that comes in a can. It is, to the best of my knowledge at least when I was a kid, part ham and part “whatever.”
The good qualities, to my parents back then, were that it tasted OK and it would last forever.
The bad qualities were that ... it tasted OK and it would last forever.
I told Jim that my mom used to fry Spam for dinner. He told me that his mom used to dice it up and put it in scrambled eggs for breakfast.
“I came into the kitchen one time, and my mom was putting Spam in the eggs, and I said, ‘What’s that?’ and she said, ‘Eat it!’”
I asked Jim if he remembered the gelatinous substance that dropped off the block of Spam when it came out of the can.
“Yea, what was that?”
“It’s a mystery,” I said.
Jim and I were talking about Spam because Jim mentioned that his mom also used to put it in macaroni and cheese. We were talking about mac and cheese because Jim agreed that it qualifies as a member of the soul food family. We were talking about soul food because Jim called to tell me that the Emancipation Park Day Committee is gearing up for its second Soul Food Cook-off.
The cook-off will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20, at the Community Service Center, 110 S. Main St., as part of Joplin’s Third Thursday activities. The event is a fundraiser for the annual Emancipation Day in the Park celebration, which is held on the first weekend in August
Before the last Soul Food Cook-off, I stumped Kathy Ratliff, one of the organizers of the event, when I asked her for a definition of “soul food.”
Kathy paused for a second and then said, “I don’t think I ever defined it. We just eat it.”
Later, when pressed a bit, Kathy gave me a list of the types of food that qualify as soul food.
“Yams, collard greens, fried chicken, sweet potato pie, baked beans, barbecue, cornbread, grits, macaroni and cheese, chitlins, black-eyed peas, rolls,” she said.
When I mentioned to Kathy that soul food sounded a lot like home-style comfort food, she agreed. So did Jim when we talked on Thursday.
According to Jim, while soul food holds a special place in the hearts and stomachs of the black community, it is not restricted to race.
“So white people can fix soul food, too?” I asked.
“Anybody can,” he said.
My parents grew up in Kansas during the Great Depression. Both parents grew up in large families run by single moms. As a rule, when I grew up, the foods of my parents’ youth were the foods of my youth. And much of what we ate certainly qualified as soul food. And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in that, which is why Jim wants to stress that the Soul Food Cook-off is open to any and everybody.
The entry fee for the Soul Food Cook-off is $10. Categories will include main dishes, side dishes, vegetables and desserts.
To enter, people may call 417-782-0055 or 417-483-1752.
I was talking Spam with Jim West on Thursday.
- Local News
Pseudoephedrine sales in Pittsburg to require prescription
Starting Friday, those who purchase pseudoephedrine and related products in Pittsburg will need a prescription to do so.
Cherokee County Commission accepts general counsel's resignation
Kevin Cure, who has served as general counsel for the Cherokee County Commission since 2005, submitted a handwritten resignation to the board on Monday in the aftermath of a landfill controversy.
Mike Pound: Parents can get help with school supplies
I don’t know much about demographics other than the fact that I no longer belong to a “targeted demographic.” When I was younger, I was bombarded by commercials and ads from companies that were trying to sell me things that I not only needed but wanted.
Jasper County Commission reviews traffic plans
The Jasper County Commission will hold public hearings today and Thursday on a number of traffic changes proposed in the county. No one spoke when the first hearing was held Tuesday as part of the regular commission meeting, according to Jim Honey, Eastern District associate commissioner.
Joplin school board reviews audit procedures
A team from the Missouri State Auditor’s Office has begun requesting documents in its task to audit the operations and management of the Joplin School District, the audit manager told the Board of Education on Tuesday.
Joplin man to stand trial in accident case
A passenger accused of causing an accident on Interstate 44 in Joplin that injured three others as well as himself was ordered bound over for trial Tuesday on three felony counts.
Volunteers spend week providing camp experience to foster youths
Karen McGlamery is a massage therapist. Terri Falis-Cochran is a finance manager. Jane McCaulley is a retired art teacher. But for a week each summer, the three are among dozens of area residents who become camp counselors.
Neosho school board hires company to manage substitutes
Citing its hopes of shifting health care costs and utilizing more time from retired teachers, the Neosho Board of Education granted a contract Monday to a temporary employee company to manage its substitute teacher program.
Main Street TIF district study to begin
A measure that allows the city to charge its $15,000 in administrative costs for studying a proposal to create a tax increment financing district on South Main Street was approved Monday by the Joplin City Council.
Carthage man pleads guilty in sexual abuse case
A Carthage man pleaded guilty Monday to sexual abuse of a 12-year-old girl in a plea agreement that would cap the length of his prison term at no more than 15 years.
- More Local News Headlines
- Pseudoephedrine sales in Pittsburg to require prescription