From Where I Stand
If you are FOB (fresh off the boat) or FOP (fresh off the plane), you are probably hungry. Please rest assured, Guam has plenty to offer. However, to really savor the local fare, attending a homegrown BBQ is a must. How? When? Where? It’s totally up to you.
Every Sunday, beach BBQs are in progress all around the island. You’ll find some yummy things that will have you planning your own BBQ soon enough. If you are invited to a local BBQ, please accept and don’t be shy.
I’ll never forget my first Chamorro BBQ. I was in Texas when my future husband, a patient Chamorro man, invited me to “check it out.” A bit nervous and full of anticipation, I accepted. Much to my surprise, I didn’t recognize anything. And who brings rice to a BBQ? (Yes, I was quite sheltered!)
I saw a bowl of pinkish-purple stuff (octopus kelaguen); green slimy stuff (eggplant, spinach); and a few other items I couldn’t even recognize. Walking around with an empty plate when everyone else had their plates piled high, I realized I was being rude. (I didn’t want to take something I wouldn’t eat and be wasteful!)
Enter my Romeo to rescue me. My sympathetic fiancé offered something I could recognize — fish. “Do you like fish?” “Of course I do,” I replied. Finally, something I could relate to!
As we approached the fish on the barbie, I was shocked. These fish had their heads on. I had never eaten anything that looked back at me. Sadly and hungrily, I whispered to my fiancé, “I can’t eat this, it still has the head on!”
My ridiculous response is now a joke among us, but I really missed out that day. Hopefully, you are a little more liberal than I was back then and will fully indulge in the beautiful culinary spread of a local BBQ.
These days, there is very little at a Chamorro feast that I don’t eat. I wish I would’ve dug in sooner. Some items can be on the exotic side, so if you have any allergies or food issues, just ask a local about the ingredients. They’ll be glad to let you in on the little secrets.
Kym Pangelinan has lived on Guam for 27 years, moving to the island with her Chamorro husband shortly after the fish head debacle. She is a happily married mother of three. Knowing what it’s like to be FOB/FOP (fresh off the boat/fresh off the plane), Kym shares her humorous insider quips and tips.