The United States territory of Guam is the largest island in Micronesia, as well as the region’s primary tourist destination. More than a million tourists visit Guam every year, drawn in by the year-round sunshine, beautiful beaches, great scuba diving, and world-class golf courses. Tumon, Guam’s main tourist area, is home to luxury resorts and high-end shopping, as well as American chains such as Hard Rock Cafe and TGI Fridays.
A stroll through Tumon may remind the visitor of Waikiki in Hawaii, but venture beyond the main tourist district and you’ll find Guam’s indigenous Chamorro heritage, years of Spanish colonialism, a brief Japanese occupation of the World War II, and more. You will get a unique culture. A century of American influence. Cultures meet throughout the island, but perhaps nowhere more clearly than at the traditional festive table. There, you will experience the magic of Chamorro cuisine, a dynamic fusion of flavors and textures from around the world.
Festivities are held almost every weekend to celebrate the feast days of the village’s patron saints, a legacy of the Catholic faith that was brought to Guam by the Spaniards in the 16th century. Most of the festivities are organized by churches and local families, but tourists can arrange tours through tour agents and the Guam Visitors Bureau. A celebration often begins with a church mass and procession through the village and continues with cultural activities such as music and traditional dance performances. Then, of course, there’s the food.
A typical festive table may consist of red rice, which is dyed with pickled seeds; fina’denne, a soy sauce-based condiment with vinegar and onions; Titias, a tortilla-type flatbread made from corn or flour; caleguen, ceviche-like meat or seafood seasoned with lemon and pepper; and barbecue marinated in soy sauce, garlic and the chef’s secret ingredients. You’ll also find imports like Filipino lumpia, Japanese sashimi, Spanish suckling pig, and even buckets of American Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Officially an unincorporated territory of the United States, Guam’s 209 square miles holds a population of approximately 180,000. The island is also home to a large military presence, with naval and air force bases covering about a third of the island’s total landmass. Located in the middle of the Pacific, just above the International Date Line, Guam is about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to the Philippines, giving it the slogan ‘America’s Day Begins’.