Summer Food: Spam con Cerveza; a Locust Fry

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Stuck bus in Baja

During a surfing trip many years ago, a stuck VW van forced Melissa Spurr to improvise a recipe for Spam con Cerveza. The dish became a staple during her travels. Courtesy Melissa Spurr hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy Melissa Spurr

Over the past few weeks, we've heard stories about the foods that mean "summer" to some of our listeners: tomatoes, peach milk shakes, apricot jam.

Now, we hear about some more unusual summer foods.

When Melissa Spurr of Joshua Tree, Calif., sent in a recipe for Spam con Cerveza, we didn't know if we were supposed to eat it — or drink it.

Its ingredients include 12 to 36 cans of beer, a can of Spam, an avocado, a tomato and fresh tortillas.

But things became clear as she described a trip to Baja during which her vehicle got mired in sand. The recipe was born out of necessity and became a staple on all of her subsequent surfing trips.

Now, she says, she is older, she's a vegetarian, and she drinks far fewer Modelos.

Even beer might not help the food at the heart of Jacquelyn Kuehn's story go down any easier: bugs.

Kuehn, of Lucernemines, Pa., recalls the crunch of fried locusts, sprinkled with salt and accompanied by honey.

Her husband paid each family member $5 per bug they ate. Their son ended up eating two; for $10, it wasn't a bad deal.

Melissa Spurr's Spam con Cerveza

Spam can
Howard Yoon for NPR


12 to 36 cans of Modelo beer (Pacifico is also OK, but less thrifty)

1 can of Spam

1 avocado (if available)

1 tomato (optional)

Fresh tortillas (always available in Mexico)


Find a nice, secluded beach on any Mexican coast. When your vehicle becomes mired in sand on the access road, open a few cans of Modelo, drink them, and go surfing. After a day of surfing, open more cans of Modelo, pass them around, and drink them. Pitch your tent before opening more Modelos.

Then build a beach bonfire. Open Spam can. Open more cans of beer. Fill the Spam can to the rim with beer and place it in the fire, and drink the remaining beer. Cook the Spam in beer for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, cut up the avocados and tomatoes and place them on the tortillas. Remove the Spam can from the fire, using a towel as an oven mitt, and remove the Spam from the can, shoveling it out with a pocket knife, and divide the Spam among the tortillas. Fold up the tortillas and enjoy with a can of beer.

The following morning, clean up beer cans, attempt to liberate vehicle from sand, give up and attempt to ride one of the ubiquitous wild Baja donkeys. After being thrown violently off donkey, drink another beer if any remain. Walk to the main road, and hitch a ride to the nearest market in the back of a rancher's truck. Buy more Spam con Cerveza ingredients, and repeat.



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