Armour Corned Beef Hash

6600 Clayton Road
Richmond Heights

Jun 14, 2006 at 4:00 am
Prying open a can of meat is rarely uplifting. Sure, the occasional tub of goose liver pâté may slip across the Atlantic, but more often it's forcemeat of the domestic variety — pink and potted.

At first blush, Armour Corned Beef Hash seems no different. Before the lid is even off, the room fills with a familiar odor — neither corn nor beef, and definitely not hash. This can's contents seem closer kin to Friskies than to any deli item.

Looks — how to put this delicately? — don't help: gelatinized muscle product flecked with grayish granules. (Are they bone matter? Fat? Could these actually be small chunks of potato?) But I have to admit the meaty cylinder shimmies into the skillet with a satisfying plop.

Now, I have always been convinced that 99.7 percent of the people who pepper their conversation with references to Marcel Proust's seven-volume work, Remembrance of Things Past, have never made it past the first book. Why? Because of the million-plus words Proust spilled over Swann and his coquettish Odette, the only section anyone ever talks about is the passage where the narrator is overwhelmed by childhood memories after nibbling a madeleine, which occurs around page 50 — of the first book.

But insight works in strange ways, this time in the form of a fifteen-ounce can of Armour Corned Beef Hash. I thought I'd hate it. I was primed to choke it down and churn out a notch in this little annal of ambiguous aliments. But the moment my hash began to sizzle, I was overcome with Saturday-morning memories of lining up at the stove with the rest of the cousins as Grandma spooned out corned beef hash, eggs and toast.

Crispy, savory and with just enough fat to keep the potatoes juicy, Armour's hash is as delicious today as it was back then. So delicious, in fact, that I stopped after one bite and fried up a pair of eggs and toasted two slices of bread.

Just like Grandma used to make.