The Spice Necklace Blog

Ann's Blog

Bourg des Saintes, Les Iles des Saintes:
May 10, 2010


When we headed off on our first trip to the Caribbean on Receta in 1997, sailing friends held a going-away party for us. “Bring something for their galley that doesn’t require refrigeration – something they’ll really appreciate once they’ve left Toronto,” they said when they issued invitations. And at the party, I unwrapped one gourmet goodie after another: a jar of wasabi powder; a sack of basmati rice; tins of dolmades; Ziploks stuffed with dried chipotles, anchos, and poblanos; gorgeous, green extra-virgin olive oil; foie gras paté; buttery cheese sticks; several bottles of Champagne; a can of SPAM…

As I held up the SPAM to raucous laughter, I spotted the date inked on the top, and realized this was no ordinary can of the meat (I use the term loosely) immortalized by Monty Python. This was a special aged SPAM, 5 1/2 years old and with 5,000 nautical miles behind it.

Our friends Sari and Peter had purchased the SPAM in Venezuela when they were on their own two-year sailboat cruise in the early ’90s. Sari dated it “1/92”– standard cruiser practice to ensure rotation of provisions – and stowed it away. Except she never opened it. Four years later, it went to the Bahamas (and back) with friends Mary and Wayne on their one-year sailing trip. They too managed to survive without prying open its lid. And then it was bequeathed to us – its reputation as a talisman ensuring delicious (read: SPAM-free) onboard meals firmly in place.

There was also an element of Russian roulette about the gift, however, since it had spent its life rattling around in damp bilges in steamy tropical climates: When would it finally blow? I had visions of a Spam-spewed interior somewhere south of the Bahamas.

But we, too, returned from our two-year trip with the can intact, and shortly thereafter passed the can to Tony and Maria, another southbound sailing couple. They returned, and, yes, so did the SPAM…which made yet one more appearance at a going-away party, this one for Kim and David on the sailboat Amanzi.

While the Spam was still traveling on Amanzi, we left town again on Receta, and never heard another word about the well-and-oft-traveled can. If I’d thought about it – and, believe me, I didn’t; it’s not like SPAM, new or old, is top of mind – I would have assumed that someone had long ago wisely regifted it to Davy Jones.

Sea food: Meat that goes the distance

Fast forward to the island of Terre en Haut, in Les Iles des Saintes. We discovered to our surprise yesterday that a couple we knew in passing from our Toronto yacht club was anchored across the harbor from us at Bourg des Saintes. Ken and Lynn had left Toronto on their sailboat Silverheels III several years after us; earlier this year, we’d heard they were in Luperón, in the Dominican Republic; and they’d been making tracks since then.

We got together for a happy hour on Receta, and midway through the evening, out of the blue, Lynn announced: “We have the SPAM, you know.”

I gasped. The can had now been racking up sea miles in one boat or another – its seams surely suspect, its spammy contents slowly swelling – for more than 18 years. “Aren’t you, uh, worried, that it will, uh……”

“Yeah, I keep it double-bagged in a storage spot we call ‘the nasty hole,’” she said.

This was no longer emergency sustenance, or even a good-meal charm. This was a lethal weapon. My condolences to the next boat that inherits the buried treasure.

Back to top

Sign up to be notified by email when I post a new blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Change the CAPTCHA codeSpeak the CAPTCHA code

HTML tags are not allowed.