this is a little christmas present going out to all the guammy bears who can't make it home for the holidays....
wednesday nights at chamorro village, or, as we call it: "stickland". the market is a weekly village fête filled with people selling everything from appliances to ukeleles, clothes, toys, souvenirs, produce and orchids, listening to the bands who play in the main pavilion for the manamko who come for an evening of the cha-cha, or who watch the halaus of hula and chamorro native dancers who like to tease the haole boys who have discovered a taste of the island they don't advertise in the guidebooks. it's a place for everyone, young and old, families and friends, to visit and share food and hang out or wander about.
amongst the wooden carved dolphins, kimonos, t-shirts and fantabulous plastic toys and jewelry, you'll find the real reason people come here--which, if you've been here or if you've read this blog even once, you'll know--is the FOOD. everywhere, from one end of the market to the other, you'll see it: barbecue grills set up alongside marine drive, coolers filled with drinks, salads, and marinated meats being set out on the lawn, the canopies going up and the catering pans being lined up to be filled with red rice, kelaguen, pancit, crabs cooked in coconut milk, taro tips, mongo--oh man, this is going to warrant more than one post, i'll tell you that much.
so, the nickname "stickland" comes from the fact that the number one barbecued item at the market is meat on sticks. chicken on sticks, pork on sticks, flank steak on sticks. squid. unsticked. the marinades used here are all based around soy sauce and sugar, but beyond that, it's a secret with each of the vendors. and when guamanians mean barbecue, they mean it--none of this gas grilling business, nenes. you see the photo above? that's a 50-gallon oil drum cut vertically with legs welded on, and a metro shelving rack thrown on top as the actual grill. charcoal and sometimes tangantangan wood gets thrown in and whoosh, that is the source of the soul. we are talking serious stuff here. george foreman would be KO'd in the first round, first minute, first second of this culinary match up.
of course, i have my favourite barbecue stall (stall is rather a misnomer--i have a favourite canopy with a foldable table is more like it), which doesn't have a name, but you'll know it because it's right across from the GPD patrolled x-walk from skinner plaza on the clock tower side. it's the one with the line that goes all the way to lady who sells the shells. nina's in charge, and she's the one you want to go to (be nice to her and she'll give you a free stick of carioca, aka tinudok, or basically chi chi dango, which is coconut milk and sweet rice flour balls dipped in a sugar syrup). they have the best squid--fat, half-foot long (foot long with tentacles) specimens chargrilled to perfection, juicy and tender, and deftly sliced into rings in front of you and slid onto a plate with pancit, red rice and chicken kelaguen. mmm.
sneeze guard? we don't need no stinkin' sneeze guard!
of course, the barbecue is relatively healthy compared to some of the other options at the market. there's taro tips cooked in coconut milk, crabs cooked in coconut milk, beef cooked with chili pepper leaves and coconut milk....and pork belly galore. cooked every way imaginable. since i've got that filipino blood coursing through me, if i'm gonna eat huge chunks of fatty pork, i'm gonna go for the lechon kawali: chunks of pork shoulder or belly are salted, boiled, dried then deep fried so you get beautifully moist, seasoned meat with light, crunchy, rich crackling with every piece. normally this is served with a sauce of crushed garlic, vinegar and lots of black pepper, but here finadene will do just fine.
i usually go to pearl's for the kawali, as she has the plumpest, meatiest, crispiest chunks; an added bonus is that pearl's actually has a kiosk that is opened during the week, so you can get it anytime, but most importantly, the kitchen is right there so freshly cooked kawali and other specialties can come out piping hot. there's always a line for pearl's but the girls move fast here. one plates up red rice and cucumber sticks marinated in soy sauce and kimchi-style hot pepper, and the other helps you decide what choices you want for your entrees. pricing is simple: one choice $3, two choice $4, three choice $5. you'll see a lot of these assembly line places on guam, known as turo-turo in the philippines, but colloquially here as simply (and logically) "one choice-two choice".
my plate:kawali and tilapia sarciado, made with a whole fried tilapia, covered in a sauce of tomatoes, peppers, green onions, and eggs. another $4 bargain at the market.
okay, so i didn't really have the room for it, but i did stop back at the halo halo grill to pick up that promised dessert. halo halo, made with various sugared fruits, sliced saba banana, vanilla or ube ice cream, mounds of shaved ice, and so much evaporated milk that you know there's enough when it starts spilling over.
burpies. not for the lactose intolerant. take your plate, find a place to sit (there's plenty of room at the main azotea, but ay, adai! that band in the corner is loud). enjoy your food al fresco with the warm ocean breezes coming in from the bay, do some people watching, meet some friends, and be a part of the island family.
felis pasgua, maligayang pasko, mele kalikimaka and happy holidays to you all!