A fiesta of culture in Guam's traditional foods
While visitors know Guam as the jewel of Micronesia and a favorite tropical destination for vacation holidays, the heart of the island is really its rich Chamorro culture.
At the center of that culture is a tradition comprised of the island’s Catholic faith introduced by the Spanish in the 1600s and a respect for family, rooted in the ancient Chamorro culture, known as the oldest civilization in Micronesia.
While family and faith is at the center of Chamorro culture, both often find their place at the fiesta table. Within the flower shape on the cover of our Guam Guide, you’ll find some of our island’s favorite foods – from red rice to chicken kelaguen. Please take time to explore our local cuisine and discover the fiesta table. It is there – during mealtimes – where families come together, new friendships are made, and old ones rekindled.
Should you be fortunate enough to invited to a barbeque, fandango (wedding), fiesta (celebration of Catholic patron saint) or a baptismal (a Christening of a person, normally an infant, into the Catholic faith), you will most likely enjoy the following foods:
Red Rice (Hineksa’ Agaga’)
A flavorful blend of seasoned rice colored with annatto seeds from the achote plant. Although rice has been a staple in the Chamorro diet for hundreds of years, it was not prepared using the achote seed until Spanish settlers introduced the plant to Guam. Achote releases a dye when soaked in water, which is then mixed with rice to give a distinct orange color. Other ingredients are often added including bacon, onion, garlic, and peas.
Chicken Kelaguen (Kelaguen Mannok)
A popular dish at almost all get-togethers characterized by a technique used in preparing chopped meats with lemon juice, salt, grated coconut, and hot red peppers. Kelaguen – which can be made using chicken, beef, shrimp, or even Spam® - is similar to chicken seviche but without the cilantro leaves.
A staple on the fiesta table, most of the time, ribs and chicken are marinated for 3-4 hours in a soy sauce and vinegar mixture, then seared on an open grill over charcoal or tangan tangan wood embers.
A basic condiment used in Chamorro cuisine, the favorite sauce is prepared by mixing soy sauce, vinegar or lemon juice, chopped white onion, and fresh chili peppers. It can be spooned over food – especially meat – or used as a dipping sauce.
Red Velvet Cake