Cooking up fond childhood food memories

by Stripes Guam
Stripes Guam

Reflecting on Month of the Military Child this April may conjure different childhood memories for different people. But one that most us have in common is of our favorite foods when growing up.

Guamanians are no different and, boy, do they have some mouthwatering memories to share. From savory stews, stir-fries and barbeques to baked, boiled and fried sweets, Guam is a treasure trove of fond childhood food memories.

When many locals recall them, they often include a special ingredient: the loving memory of time spent with family members.

“It was a cold and rainy day in the Marinana Islands,” Jennifer Peralta recalls of a visit to her grandmother’s long ago. “I walked in her front door one morning when I was a girl and smelled the most delicious smells coming from the kitchen. My grandma called me to the room with those enticing aromas and placed a bowl of ‘kadon mannok’ in front of me. Then she told me to eat quickly or else it would get cold.

“After giving thanks, I tried a small spoonful which turned into a big spoonful and then an empty bowl,” she says. “I felt so warm and blissful as I thanked Grandma Bessie. I wanted her to live forever so she could keep on making kadon mannok to make people happy, especially me.”

The experience left a lasting impression. Peralta says this dish was so common when she was growing up that everyone in her family used to make it. But her grandmother’s was the best, by far.

“Kadon mannok – also known as chicken stew – was my favorite because it was so hearty and filling that it just hit the spot, particularly during thunder storms,” Peralta adds.

For James Borja, president of Marianas Underwater Fishing Federation, it is hard to pick one of the best out of so many favorite dishes he had as a child.

“Chicken ‘estufao,’ similar to Filipino chicken adobo, with chicken cooked with soy sauce, vinegar or lemon, garlic, onions and hot peppers was an excellent dish with steamed rice (when I was) a child,” he says. “I also liked chicken ‘kelaguen,’ the chicken breast grilled on charcoal then chopped up and mixed with lemon, onions, freshly grated coconut, salt and hot pepper.”

He also reminisces about his favorite Chamorro sweets.

“‘Ahu’ is made with the juice and meat of the young coconut, which is boiled and sugar and tapioca starch is added to thicken it. It was so good.” says Borja.

These days, traditional home-cooked meals have given ground to convenience on Guam, just as they have elsewhere. According to Peralta, frozen yogurt, smoothies, bubble teas, hot dogs and tacos are probably near the top most children’s favorite-food lists today.

“It seems that kids today prefer fast foods,” she says. “With parents and kids so busy and more fast food establishments available, it’s a breeze to acquire those tastes. It’s appears easier to eat fast food rather than take the time to cook and eat together at home.

“I grew up eating home-cooked meals, usually prepared together as a family,” Peralta adds. “Because of that, I had a vested interest in making sure whatever I made had better taste good because that’s what I was going to eat.”
There is more to this pastime, however, than just good eating.

Just as many traditional Chamorro recipes have been inherited from generation to generation, the traditional method of preparation has always involved getting the whole family together in the kitchen. It allows for some valuable family time as well as a way to teach children how to cook, according to Coleen Acfalle.

Acfalle, a Guam native stationed at Camp Zama, Japan, says carrying on that tradition has helped instill a love for helping out in the kitchen in her children. This is especially true when it comes to traditional Guamanian dishes they really like such as chicken kelaguen or corn soup.

“All the kids and elders, we all get in the kitchen and help,” she says. “As (the younger children) get older, they help to turn the stove on or start stirring stuff, they always see this preparation and they are always involved in it.”

It is also an important ingredient for making fond childhood food memories for a life-long taste of Guam – no matter where your next duty station may take you.


Alyssa's fluffy vanilla pancakes

This so easy that when my older sister, Hannah, was about 3 years old, she had this recipe memorized and she’d always ask our mom to help her make it for breakfast.  The only thing I changed to my mom’s original recipe was to add vanilla extract and I used butter instead of vegetable oil.  (I love butter!)


  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • Optional: semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Mix the egg, milk, butter and vanilla in a small mixing bowl.
  2. Whisk in the salt, flour and baking powder.
  3. Cook on a heated skillet until golden brown on both sides. Optional: sprinkle chocolate chips on one   side of the pancake before flipping it over.
  4. Serve with butter and syrup. Enjoy!                             

Alyssaa Quidachay, 12, Annie’s Chamorro Kitchen

Butter eggs aka baby's favorite


  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup salted butter
  • Baby spinach or other greens (optional)


  1. Crack the eggs into a bowl. 
  2. Whisk together until it changes to one uniform color.
  3. Heat frying pan or small skillet to medium low heat. 
  4. Place half the butter in the pan or skillet. 
  5. Pour the eggs in evenly.
  6. Constantly stir until mixture becomes firm but still a bit wet looking. Place in rest of the butter.  Stir more. 
  7. Take skillet or pan off the heat when all butter has melted.
  8. Place cooked butter eggs on a serving dish and sprinkle with spinach over the top and then stir in.

Jennifer Peralta & Rosario Peralta, 5

Budget- & kid-friendly eateries on island

Capricciosa Guam

This friendly Italian eatery offers a Kids Night every Tuesday. Get one free Kids meal for a child under 12 with every purchase of an entrée. The kids meal includes a drink and a scoop of ice cream. Meal choices include spaghetti, macaroni, pizza and lasagna.

Address:  Royal Orchid Hotel
Tel: 646-9653
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. (Mon.-Sat.), 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. (Sun)

Address:  Pacific Place Bldg.
Tel: 647-3746
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. (Mon.-Sat.), 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. (Sun)

Address: Agana Shopping Center
Tel: 472-1009
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. (Daily)

Tony Roma's

At Tony Roma’s has proclaimed every Wednesday to be Kids Day. Kids get a free a Kids Meal and a scoop of ice cream with the purchase of an adult entrée throughout the day. Meal choices include ribs, cheese burger, chicken strips and pasta.

Address: Agana Shopping Center
Tel: 477-4071
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. (Daily)

Address: Royal Orchid Hotel
Tel: 646-0017
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. (Sun.-Thu.), 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. (Fri. & Sat.)

California Pizza Kitchen

Kids eat free with the purchase of an entrée on Thursday. California Pizza Kitchen also offers the CPKids program which is a pizza making tour for children age 10 and under for $10 per child. Reservations are required.

Address: Holiday Resort and Spa Guam, Tumon 
Tel: 647-4888
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. (Sun.-Thu.), 11 a.m.-11 p.m. (Fri. & Sat.)

The Palm Cafe

At the palm café, children ages 6-12 can enjoy the Japanese Cuisine Lunch Buffet, Monday through Saturday (except holidays), from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for $16; ages 5 and under eat free. A 10 percent service charge is still applicable.

Address: Outrigger Resort Guam, Tumon 
Tel: 671-649-9000
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. (Sun.-Thu.), 11 a.m.-11 p.m. (Fri. & Sat.)

La Mirenda

At La Mirenda, children ages 6-12 can enjoy American and Japanese style breakfast buffet, barbeque and seafood dinner buffet, and Sunday international buffet for half price ($16). Children ages 5 and under eat for free.

Address: Hyatt Regency Guam
Tel: 647-1234
Hours: Breakfast, Mon. - Sat., 7-10:30 a.m.; Dinner, Mon.- Sun., 6 -10 p.m.

What's on the children's menu?

Big-name family restaurants and cozy local eateries alike offer special menus just for kids. Here’s what a few popular diners have to say about what’s a hit with their younger patrons.

tuRe Cafe
No. 1 kids menu choice: Chicken and fries basket – $5.99
• Runner up: Fried rice (with spam, egg and sausage) – $4.99

Address: 349 Marine Corps Drive, Hagatna
Tel: 479 8873
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 6:30 a.m.-8 p.m., Sat. & Sun. 6:30 a.m.-13 p.m.

Denny’s restaurant
• No. 1 kids menu choice: Junior macaroni and cheese – $4.59
• Runner up: Junior Grand Slam (fried rice, egg, bacon and Portuguese sausage) – $4.59
(Kids 12 and under get a free kids meal with the purchase of a regular adult order when eating in.)

Address: 393 Smarine Drive
Tel: 646-1475
Hours: 24 hours

Address: 1088 West Marine Corps Drive (at Micronesia Mall)
Tel: 637-1802
Hours: 24 hours

King’s Restaurant
• No. 1 kids menu choice: Cheese burger – $4.95
• Runner up: Grilled chicken – $5.95, Pancakes, French toast

Address: Compadres Mall
Tel: 637-5464
Hours: 24 hours

Address: 199 Chalan San Antonio Suite 200
Tel: 646-5930
Hours: 24 hours

Jeff’s Pirates Cove
• No. 1 kids menu choice: Kids fish nuggets with fries (with drink and Jeff’s pirate sticker) – $12
• Runner up: Kids junior cheese burger (with drink and Jeff’s pirate sticker) – $12

Address: #111 Rt. 4, Ipan Talofofo
Tel: 789 2683
Hours: Mon.-Sat. / 8 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun. / 8 a.m.-7 p.m.

Sunset Grill
• No. 1 kids menu choice: Hamburger – $6.50
• Runner up: Grilled cheese sandwich / macaroni and cheese – $ 6 each

Address: Marine Corps Dr. Asan
Tel: 472 3202
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

Shirely’s coffee shop
• No. 1 kids menu choice: Grilled cheese and chicken nuggets with smiley French fries – $3.25
• Runner up: Bacon and eggs, Portuguese sausage and spam – $3.25

Address: 3115 Agana Shopping Center
Tel: 472-8383
Hours: Daily 6:30 a.m.-10 p.m.

Address: Governor Carlos G Camacho Rd
Tel: 649-6633
Hours: Daily, 6 a.m.-12 a.m.

Pika’s Café
• No. 1 kids menu choice:  Bulgogi beef (with rice and corn) – $6
• Runner up: Ham and cheese – $6

Address: 888 N Marine Corps Drive, Tamuning
Tel: 647-7452
Hours: Mon- Sat, 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m.


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