A dive into Guam's food past. Where did it all come from?
Our food history on Guam is much a reflection of the food history of our planet. What we have today goes way back when to climate changes: events that caused apes to evolve from four-legged to two-legged creatures in search of food; events that allowed apes to cross over continents; and events that gave rise to humans living in communities, or civilizations. Our human evolution is directly related to the evolution of food, and how food was available, gathered, preserved, and cooked. The modern form of humans, or homo sapiens sapiens, is so young at just under 200,000 years compared to about 4 to 10 million years ago when the transition of ape to man is suspected to have started. Moreover, the original inhabitants of Guam, our ancient people, are believed to have reached the island around 4,000 years ago, or 2000 B.C. Before humans came upon her shores, a few indigenous foods grew there. These ancient Chamorros, along with the birds and the ocean currents, are suspected of carrying seeds from other lands to Guam. When we think about Guam food from the time before our time, we could use the available data from naturalists, archeologists, and historians like Lawrence J. Cunningham, William E. Safford, and Laura Thompson, in addition to the documentation from visitors and settlers that have passed through Guam.
These foods were on island before man arrived.
Bamboo shoots or pi'ao palao'an
Breadfruit, seeded, or dokdok
Freshwater foods like shrimp or uhang, and eels or asuli
Hutu, seed of the dokdok
Pandanus or kaffo' and pȧhong
Queen sago or fadang
Seafoods like fish or guihan, land crabs or pȧnglao, coconut crab or ayuyu, lobster or mahongang, clams or hima and pȧhgang, and turtles or haggan
These foods are what have been documented as foods brought to Guam by her first settlers.
Apighighi (apigige') lemmai - fermented breadfruit mixed with grated coconut, made into little pellets then baked
Areca/betel nut or mama'on and pugua'
Bananas or aga' and chotda
Bittermelon or atmagosu
Breadfruit or lemmai
Coconut or niyok
Duck weed/water spinach or kangkong
Fruit bats or fanihi
Ginger of white coloring or hasngot
Ginger, wild, or mango'
Horseradish or maronggai and kutdes
Kelaguen or to cook without fire using lemon juice and salt
Mango or mȧngga
Rice or fa'i
Rice and grated coconut gruel or alȧguan
Rice cakes or poto and potu
Taro or suni
Sugarcane or tupu
Yam or dȧgu
Yam, wild, or gaddo'
References to baking foods wrapped in banana leaves
References to broiling food in embers of an open fire pit
References to carrying water in trunks of bamboo or bongbong
References to cooking in a deep pit or hoyu
References to using a mortar and pestle to smash breadfruit, grind rice, and grind herbs or lusong and lommok
References of having rice cakes blessed to heal the sick -- could this be poto / potu?
References to grating coconut with a kåmyo to make coconut milk and coconut oil
References to woven pandanus and banana leaves used as plates
Refereneces to gourds, pottery, and coconut shells used for liquids
The following are foods recorded by visitors and settlers in addition to the indigenous and ancient foods, according to the year of documentation. Keep in mind, however, that whalers and seafarers stopped on Guam for supplies long before Ferdinand Magellan floundered onto the island in 1521.
The year Guam was officially claimed for Spain by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi
Fowl or domesticated bird kept for eggs and flesh
About 100 years after Guam was claimed, Jesuit missionaries arrive on island to spread Christianity. They introduced a lot of food stuff, including how to grow and use corn.
Cacao or kakao
Corn or mai'es
Sweet potatoes or kamuti
References to use of garden hoe or fusinos
References to use of stone grinder or manos and metati
References to use of pickaxe or hachita
Bread of fine wheat flour
Hogs in salt
Pickled mangos or inasne mȧangga
Pickled fish or inasne guihan
Potatoes or batȧtas
Pumpkins or kalamasa
Watermelons or chandia
Cows or guaka
Oranges or kȧhet
Sugar or asukat
Betel pepper leaf or pupulu
BreadstuffsDeer or binȧdu
Cajan cajan/pigeon peas or lanta'as
Capers or atkaparas
Guava or ȧbas
Additional foods introduced to Guam from the Americas by the Spanish:
Avocado or alagetta
Chili pepper or doni'
Papaya or papȧya
Pineapple or pina
Soursop or laguanȧ
Tapioca or mendioka
Tomatoes or tumȧtes
Pedro's Ice Plant is established - "ice box"
The following are what Laura Thompson observed, as noted in her book, Guam and Its People.
Arrowroot tubers, ground and soaked to use as starch for making boñelos
Distilled liquor from fermented fruits or aguayente
Pepper or seasoned fina'denne'
Raised open hearths
Rice as an import
Tortillas made of ground corn for the noon meal
History of Apigige'
History of Guyuria
History of Kelaguen
History of Tamåles
Guam PDN: Sweet tamåles mendioka
Guam PDN: Corn soup without the chicken
Guam PDN: Boñelos kalamasa with fresh pumpkin
Guam PDN: Rice, rice baby
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