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  • Writer's pictureTeresa Conway

Northern Mariana Islands

Nickname: Las Marianas

Two Truths and a Lie

The Recipe - Banana Rosketti

The Northern Mariana Islands contain 14-16 islands (depending on how one counts the cluster of Maug Islands) formed by a volcanic range neighboring the deepest ocean trench in the world. Archeological evidence suggests the first settlers arrived as early as 1500 B.C which would mean the Marianas were the first settled islands in remote Oceania. These Austronesian people sailed more than 1,000 miles from the Philippines.

The Spanish arrived in 1521 and brought germs and subjugation. They named the islands after their queen and ruled for nearly three centuries. In 1898, the United States seized control of the largest island in the archipelago, Guam, but declined to administer the remaining Marianas. The defeated Spanish empire sold the islands to Germany to cover war debts. Japan invaded during World War I and controlled the Marianas until the US victory in the Battle of Saipan in 1944. After World War II, the United Nations placed the Marianas and other Pacific islands in a temporary trust. In 1975, the citizens of the Northern Mariana Islands elected to join the U.S. as a Commonwealth.

Saipan, Tinian, and Rota are home to most of the population. The Northern Marianas was traditionally home to the Chamorro people but nowadays is a multiethnic and multilingual place with Carolinians, Filipinos, and other foreign workers making a home there. For this post, I chose a traditional Chamorro version of shortbread called Rosketti.

Rosketti is a very starchy cookie and most recipes call for an entire box of cornstarch. Since they contained so little flour in the first place, I made my Rosketti gluten-free. Traditionally Rosketti are lightly flavored with vanilla. I wanted to add some more island flavor, so I added powdered, freeze-dried bananas. Bananas grow well in the Marianas and make up an important part of the local diet.

This dough was a dream to work with. I enjoyed forming the traditional snail shapes and they baked beautifully. I actually hate bananas so I could not enjoy these cookies. Luckily my nephew adores bananas and two-fisted these cookies, so they found a loving recipient.

Time for the whole truth

Latte Stones are honored on the state quarter, license plate, and highway signs. These are ancient stone pillars found throughout the island, remnants of ancestral dwellings.

(By the way, you can click on any of the 2 truths and a lie statements to visit the source of the trivia)

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