Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Hot Monkey Love

I'm the headline guy at work. When someone is stuck, they send it over to me, and I usually figure something out. I have fun coming up with clever little titles that refer to a film or television show (usually an old one) or some term that has some kind of pop-cultural echo. But I don't have too much fun. We are a business magazine afterall.

For instance, I could never write a hed like the one above, especially if it is accompanied by a picture of two men, arm-in-arm, like the one below.

The shoot is over, phew!

However, the monkey in question actually comes from a Tony Bourdain quote that I found on Bourdain was online last year with some fans when a Hawaii person asked if the chef had plans to visit the Islands and check out our Spam obsession. As expected, he didn't mince words, just us: "Then I would have to eat a lot of Spam and I would rather have sex with a crackhead clown an ebola-infected spider monkey than eat Spam on a regular basis. Does Spam qualify as food or bulding material?"

I e-mailed the link to my co-worker, Jen, a fellow Bourdainian, and I lamented that I didn't have a chance.

So when the call confirming the lunch came, no one was as surprised as I, and then I remembered that quote. "The guy's going to de-bone me with his rapier wit and ginzu tongue. Then he's going to finish the job by beating me silly with a greasy ladel. This could get ugly."

I thought that I could get all academic on him, so I did some research and found maybe two usable sentences about the history of Spam in Hawaii. The night before I went to Barnes and Noble and bought a Spam cookbook and minutes before we left the house the day of the shoot, I dug out our acrylic Spam musubi maker. Maybe he would believe me more if he knew that kitchen tools were involved.

Then I remembered a bit of advice (one item in a laundry list of suggestions) that my movie studio executive younger sister told me: "Just be yourself, he's going to love you." Note: The love in the quote does not refer to the love in the headline. I'll get to that.

Here I am trying to be myself.

A lot of people are worried about how Hawaii and Spam will fare during the episode, but I think we're going to do OK. The reason for my optimism is that No. 1, I survived the experience without any serious bodily injury and No. 2, he really liked the stuff.

We started the meal off with a papaya, bisquit and Spam, eggs and rice. I explained to him that frying really changes the character of the canned meat, making it even saltier. I told him how you need to fry it till it gets a nice crust, so there's a little crunch to it. Tony eats, shaking his head.

From there we went to fried rice and diced Spam. In this case stir frying made the meat plump and moist. The same effect can be derived from boiling, witness the saimin, served in a bowl that you could wash your hair in. Tony continues to eat, now he's nodding. I was trying to be myself in an Alton Brown sort of way. I was very nervous.

Then he starts to unwrap his Spam musubi. The conversation goes something like this: Tony: "So this is the Spam musubi. I see that it is like the onigiri with a piece of meat in the middle." Dave: "It is a fairly recent phenomenon. It's a convenience food." Tony takes a bite and nods. Dave: "OK, imagine that you're at the beach and you're getting out of the water..." Tony: "And you want something salty." Dave: "Exactly." Tony: "Mmmm." He eats almost all of his musubi.

We moved on to loco moco, which he also liked, and then to that funky egg, curry and kim chee dish, which he like, too.

One of the last dishes was a piece of ahi in a butter caper sauce. He thought it was pretty good but then said: "Wait!" and then reached over, skewered a small piece of Spam and then added a forkful of fish and ate them together. "Now, it's perfect," he said.

He then returned to his musubi and finished it and declared it his favorite. My wife overheard him say on camera that it was a revelation. He then reached over and took the remaining half of my Spam musubi and did a "what-have-we-learned-today" monologue.

So I don't think we have anything to worry about in regards to Spam.

But maybe Tony does. He told me that after Hawaii they will be visiting Laos, home to a lot of ...

Tony, meet Bong Bong.


christa said...

never once did i doubt that you are 'headline guy'. especially with such a snazzy title for your blog.
what's probably coming out of you like a brilliant factory takes people like me three days, ten ping pong games, four mindless tv shows online and a jog around the block to come up with!

The Blot said...

Wow, great story...thanks for sharing! As a fellow Bourdainian I love hearing little tidbits like these. Nothing gets me more excited about the upcoming season than reading about all the behind the scenes preparation that goes into each show.