Guam is the definition of tiny but mighty, at least in terms of food. The island — a U.S. territory in the Pacific — may be relatively small, but its colorful history and diverse culture makes for a flavor-packed cuisine that can be enjoyed in many different ways. Experience Guam with your stomach with these four ways to enjoy its exciting cuisine while you’re there.
Go on a Food Tour of the Island
One of the easiest ways to experience the flavors of Guam is by going on a curated food tour. These are usually led by knowledgeable local guides and can be conveniently booked online.
On these food tours, you’ll be led off the beaten path and treated to amazing dishes that will have you eating like a local. You’ll also learn more about Guam’s rich culture and history from a helpful guide who can tell you all about what you’re eating, where it’s from, and why it’s so well-loved. You can also take control of the experience by hooking up with a food tour group that specializes in what you’re interested in: from bold Chamorro cuisine to the veritable wealth of local sweet delicacies that the island has to offer, there’s a food tour that can cater to your unique tastes.
Find Local Takes on Foreign Classics
Immigrant cultures are alive, well, and thriving in Guam, which means that you can also easily find some of your favorite foreign dishes on the island. There are establishments that strive to stay as authentic as possible, as well as ones that have adapted their cuisine to use local ingredients and cater to local tastes. For instance, you can find pizzerias in Guam that can serve a Neapolitan pizza comparable to what you’d find on the streets of Naples. Or you can explore how Guamanians have innovated on the classic at restaurants that top their pies with fresh seafood and avocado. International restaurants abound, from all-American chain favorites to smaller neighborhood fixtures. Just head out there and explore!
Sample Traditional Chamorro Sweet Treats
Guamanian cuisine is so varied and diverse that it can be difficult to know where to start. A quick way to narrow the choices down is by categorizing the cuisine and sampling one at a time.
Sweets are well-loved everywhere, and Guam has plenty of traditional specialties to choose from. Latiya is a big one: it’s a soft and fluffy sponge cake covered in a thick vanilla-flavored custard and topped with cinnamon powder. The traditional Chamorro dessert is said to have been introduced to the island by the Spanish and bears several similarities to the popular natillas in Spain. Another local favorite is coconut candy, a native confection that dates all the way back to ancient times. It is prepared relatively simply, using only sugar and fresh grated coconut, but it packs such a powerful wallop of flavor that it can be difficult to stop once you’ve started popping them. There’s also guyuria, also known as Guam’s idea of a challenge. These dense cookies are rock-hard on purpose, made with flour, sugar, butter, salt and coconut milk. They’re deep-fried, dried, and then glazed with a sugar syrup that eventually hardens when dry. You can find them fondly being referred to as “Chamorro jawbreakers” in some bakeries.
Visit During a Fiesta
Fiestas or festivals in Guam are usually celebrated with plenty of food and fanfare. The predominantly Catholic island is known for throwing huge parties on feast days set by the church, which means that there’s usually some fiesta happening on nearly every weekend of the year. Fiesta culture is so prevalent in Guam that there are several sites you can consult for a comprehensive calendar of all the feasts that are held on any given year and where they happen.
The typical fiesta table is not complete without a few mainstay dishes. Red rice is a staple, for example, and this is short-grain rice preparation is one that simply involves cooking rice in water colored with annatto seeds and sometimes flavored with garlic and onions. Kelaguen is another festival essential; the Chamorro dish is most often made with boiled or broiled chicken in a marinade of lemon juice, salt, and hot peppers, though other proteins can be used as well. Modern Chamorro barbecue, on the other hand, consists of flavorful marinated meat and fresh seafood grilled to perfection over open fire that is contained in possibly the best representation of Guamanian ingenuity— the tanke, a 55-gallon metal drum specially commandeered for the purpose.
Visiting during a fiesta essentially guarantees that you’ll be treated to the best of what the island has to offer. It’s a smashing time, everyone’s in great spirits, and you’re sure to be fed until you burst!
Food is so integral to Guam’s culture that there are so many ways to enjoy it on the island. Experience them all on your next visit!