Every so often you hear scare stories about rising grain prices, food shortages and the likelihood that soon we will all be stabbing one another in the throat in the clamour to nail a rat for supper. All nonsense, of course: food was never cheaper or more abundant than in our age of agronomic ingenuity. Which makes the continued presence of spam, and its room-mate in the fraternity of indeterminate victuals, luncheon meat, on shelves and in Hong Kong's cha chaan teng, a confounding facet of modern life.
Hongkongers acquired their taste for this dubious substance from the British. The irony is that few Brits would confess to eating spam nowadays: its street cred bombed after being the butt of a Monty Python skit in the 1970s.
Previous to that, British children were force-fed "spam fritters", a deep-fried preparation seen as essential to their well-being. Unhappily, it was later discovered there is more salt in a tin of spam than nutritionists recommend eating in a month. Or thereabouts.
What else it contains is less certain. Many of us no doubt blithely consume lung and testicle in pâté or sausage meat - but then such foods are often delicious. By comparison, spam tastes of little; tile grouting, perhaps.
It is also said it will remain edible inside the can for decades, making it ideal as a Christmas decoration (see Something new), maybe, but a nice fresh rat could be more appetising.