Guam - Tånó y CHamoru
Updated: 3 days ago
Nickname: Land of the CHamoru
Two Truths and a Lie
Guam consists of a main island and several coral atolls. The Bikini Atoll was the site of atomic bomb testing between 1948 and 1958. In the name of science, inhabitants in neighboring atolls were not evacuated and suffered immediate and long-lasting health problems from radiation exposure.
U.S. Marines arrived in Guam in 1898, where they received a surprisingly polite reception from the Spanish authorities because no one in Guam was aware that Spain and the U.S. were at war. The Marines requested and were granted an immediate surrender of the island. They stuck around for 2-3 days before leaving and taking their flag with them, confident they had ended 200 years of Spanish rule without any bloodshed.
The citizens of Guam are disenfranchised in several respects: they cannot vote in federal elections, have no representation in the Senate, and have one non-voting member in the House of Representatives. They do get equal representation from the U.S. Postal Service which treats mail to and from Guam as domestic with no added surcharge even though it’s 4,000 miles west of the nearest state, Hawaii.
The Recipe - Spiced "Guyuria"
Guam is the largest island in Micronesia, a subregion of Oceania that confusingly also includes an island chain called the Federated States of Micronesia. Micronesia has less land and fewer people than neighboring Polynesia and Melanesia. Early settlers had to eke out a living on a few hilly islands and several coral atolls that barely rose above sea level. Inter-island trade prospered between Micronesians who relied on each other before the arrival of European colonizers.
Guam is also part of the same archipelago as the Northern Mariana Islands (NMI), which will get its own post. The islands shared a cultural history until they were politically separated between the U.S. and Germany at the beginning of the 20th Century. The culture shared between them is called Chamoru on Guam and Chamorro in the NMI. At least that’s what the NYT said in a fascinating article on the U.S. presence in the Pacific.
The Chamoru have a rich culinary history with many delicious dishes like a spicy chicken stew called kadon pika, red rice called eneksa agaga and a shrimp ceviche called kelaguan uhang. A popular cookie is called guyuria. These cookies involve a simple dough made with flour, sugar, and coconut milk that is twisted and deep-fried. They are coated with a syrup that hardens giving them their English nickname, jawbreakers.
I found a few guyuria recipes online and tried to stay true. I wanted a small twist so I spiked my syrup with ginger and cinnamon. The recipes seemed straightforward so I charged forth with an abundance of false confidence.
I nearly gave up in the middle, nothing seemed to work. I underworked my dough, supersized the cookies, and failed to achieve the traditional shape. I also crystallized my syrup and made a huge mess. Luckily for me, it is hard to make fried, glazed dough taste anything besides delicious so these were still a hit. If anyone from Guam is reading this and wishes to guide me through the proper technique, I would love to hear from you.
Time for the whole truth
The Bikini Atoll belongs to the Marshall Islands, but all the rest is true.
(By the way, you can click on any of the 2 truths and a lie statements to visit the source of the trivia)