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Living on Guam & Blog-a-versary

Living on Guam & Blog-a-versary
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I can’t believe it’s been a year since I began my traveling and started this blog!  Man oh man how time flies.   All along this blog has been a fun way to connect with friends and family and provide updates on my sometimes unorthodox adventures.  I gotta say though, the blog has really evolved into so much more for me and has given me a way for documenting my travels and remembering all the stories and unique places I’ve been.

I hope you’ve enjoyed some of the stories and catch the foodie adventure bug!  Thanks for all the support and encouragement.

Sunday Brunch- left to right, Xia Jiao (shrimp dumplings ), Chinese Omelet, and Chicken Feet

I will admit trying to write about food is never as fun as eating it and since starting this blog I’ve grown a huge appreciation for food writers and folks that do this kind of stuff full time.  Being a full time traveller and foodie is not all rainbows and butterflies!

Maybe one day I’ll be on the Bourdain level but until then I’ll just try to keep a monthly update on Keep It Sambal.

I see there hasn’t been a blog post in a while? What’s up with that?

The last few months have been a blur since moving to Guam.   From learning a new job, fishing (a lot), diving, hiking, doing triathlons/races, getting into Yoga, and traveling back to the mainland and Hawaii, I feel like I’ve finally just caught my breath here and only now am I somewhat settled.

Spanish Steps – one of the areas where the Spanish built a village and happens to be a really cool snorkel spot. The Spaniards definitely took all the prime real estate…
Post race vibes.  Every weekend it seems like there is another race here with the triathalons and foot races.   I’m trying to get into cycling more and might try to do some mountain biking soon.
Shoreline from Pagat Caves.   a fun hike and cool swimming hole.   People jump off here but I decided to test my luck another day.
My favorite kayak launch: Dadi beach.  The fishing has been a learning curve for me since most of my fishing experience has been brackish water estuaries.  Open ocean from a kayak is a whole new ballgame.
When in Guam… you gotta go diving!!   And spearfishing 🙂

So what’s the food like on Guam?

History of Guam

When it comes to food on Guam, I first need to explain a little of the island’s history to give some context.  Guam was originally inhabited by the indigenous “Chamorru” called Chamorro people who first arrived somewhere around 2000 B.C. (yes that’s before Jesus!).   The Spanish, first Magellan, discovered the island in the early 1500s and the Spanish occupied it for about 300 years.   The Spanish rule over the island lasted until 1898 when the U.S. claimed it during the Spanish-American War.  Guam was occupied by the U.S. until 1941 when the Japanese invaded and occupied the island the day after Pearl Harbor.  During WWII it was a strategic outpost in the Pacific theater and the site of intense fighting between the Americans and Japanese.  The U.S. finally reclaimed the island in July of 1944 and in 1950 Guam became a U.S. territory.  

A little historical context.  Fun fact the native Hawaiians didn’t arrive in Hawaii until around 400 A.D from Polynesia. Almost 1600 years after Guam was inhabited.

So the history of Guam has a lot of influence to its food.  The Spanish influence is probably the strongest with Red Rice, Chorizo sausage, and the local favorite Kelaguen  – a raw chicken, beef, squid or octopus dish soaked in lime juice  – which is very similar to ceviche.   There are also a lot of similarities to Filipino food with pork and coconut milk in most dishes.

Where the heck is Guam? Just in case you missed it on your geography test in grade school… oh sorry, forgot we don’t teach world geography in the U.S.
Note: Hawaii is not even on the map – it’s almost 4,000 miles from Guam.

One thing I’ve observed here is that the best local cuisine revolves around BBQ.   If there is one thing the Pacific Islanders are experts in and serious about it’s BBQ.   I’m not kidding they take it VERY, VERY seriously.   Every morning when driving to work I can smell some of the locals on the side of the road firing up the grill and it smells AMAZING and I can testify that it tastes even better.

Friends BBQ-ing Chammoro style

You may be thinking, “yeah yeah, I’ve had great BBQ down South and in Texas.”  Sure.  You probably have.  But let me tell you that Chamorro-style BBQ is different.  The spare ribs, brisket,  chicken, fish, you name it, the BBQ here is one-of-a-kind and a must try.

A variant of the “Loco Moco” – a fried egg on top of a beef patty over rice smothered in brown gravy.
Pancit and Lumpia.  These are Filipino staples but are a common sight at any Chamorro function due to the large Filipino population on island.    I freaking love Filipino food, I can’t explain it haha.

Seafood

Of course being on an island there is no shortage of seafood and the locals rely heavily on reef fishes for subsidence.   The most common catch is Mañahak (juvenile Rabbit fish), Atulai (big eye scad), and Lagua (parrotfish) which are all staples in the local diet.   The large pelagics such as Pacific Blue Marlin, Mahi Mahi, Dogtooth Tuna, and Yellowfin Tuna are less common on the table but are still caught and sold in the  local groceries and are pretty cheap.   I’ve definitely been eating a lot more fish, either caught myself or bought locally from the store.

The Skip Jack  is that chicken looking thing above .. mmm mmmm good.   These Pacific Jacks taste way  different than the Jack Crevalle we have back in the Atlantic.   They are a light and flaky table fare compared to the fishy and tough Jacks that I’m used to.
Little Pacific Skipjack that became my breakfast as pictured above.  One thing I love about Guam is I can go down to the beach which is 2 minutes from my house and catch these guys right off the shore!
Homemade Tuna Poke.  This was actually leftover from dinner and became my lunch the next day.  Still tasted just as good. I’m getting pretty good at making sashimi and Poke dishes.

Favorite Spots on Guam

As far as my favorite food and restaurants go on Guam, I think the jury is still out  for me in making my final decision as I’m still trying out all the spots here.   I think in the next couple of weeks I will be trying to put together my top 5 restaurants and dishes on Guam.

But until then here are a couple of my favorite non-food related places that I love.

Haputo Beach.  Remote access and a seriously steep hike to get to but once you get down a cliff you have it all to yourself.
Mt. Jumulong and southern mountain ridge.  Great views of the entire island.
Fonte Dam.  Easy hike right through the jungle and it’s super close to my work.   Great running and mountain bike trails.

 

 

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