bounty, cagey.

bittermelon and tomatoes

deposited at my front doorstep the other day: a giant carton of cherry tomatoes and bittermelon. whooo! what to do, what to do.



also deposited: a bunch of eggs. i have to laugh whenever i buy those cage-free, free-range, battery-free, antibiotic-free, donovan-listening eggs at the market. i have a few friends with errant chickens, which are empirically without cage and battery, conforming to every stereotype about the bird you may have ever thought: they cross the road to get to the other side, they run around even with their heads cut off (srsly? so freakin' weird), and are as free as. no one is actually sure where they've come from--probably another yard in the neighbourhood--but no one comes around to claim them, and certainly none of my friends actually feed them. they know how to fend for themselves, surely.

i don't really know all that much about chickens, but i was under some assumption that eggs were usually dropped in a nest or at least in a sheltered area and roughly in the same area. however, the eggs pictured above are much like all the ones collected from various folk: randomly deposited on window sills, doorsteps, flowerpots, but mostly in driveways--coral rock, conrete, brick, dirt, clay....they seem to like the open expanse and playing chicken (! ha) with the cars coming in or out. the ones out of the way are mostly left alone, because of uncertainty of age, although some folk are partial to penoy, which are fertilized eggs which fail to hatch. personally, i think it's an open invitation for snakes (leaving eggs around the yard, not the penoy per se). the driveway ones are collected and distributed for consumption. i haven't really participated in the handouts because, well, i as a lifelong storebought egg consumer, am still a bit suspect of the driveway eggs. sure they are collected pretty quickly, but temperatures reach 80˚F or more by mid-morning regularly, and i'm not the one collecting the eggs. i know i should get over it, so i've started to get my share, but only for hard boiling purposes until i am more comfortable with the idea (i'm not worried about salmonella, but i figure a cracked/bad egg is easier to deal with once boiled).

i'm sure i wouldn't be so cagey if someone told me these had come from their lovely little farm with the red barn and the cow named bessie, i should be thrilled i'm getting fresh and free ones from the lovely little subdivision with the concrete house and the car named camry.


almost speaking of snakes, i came home from manila at 5am, opened up the bedroom door to find a snake slithering underneath the bed. after a little bit of a freak out, i went looking for it, to find...nothing. so after a few days of careful peering and not reaching into handbags too hastily, i was happy to find one of the dogs inadvertently stepping on what i originally thought was an electrical cord but turned out to be an irate and desperate snake. mostly dead (yay dog! although she is traumatized from the incident), so it was finished off with a whack of a nine iron. before animal rights folks get after me, i have to point out that the brown tree snake is non-native to the island, invasive, and has decimated the native bird population. "ecological disaster" is not too strong a phrase. so, although i find my golf club whacking ways troubling, i also think it's necessary. the thing is...the dead snake is not same one seen slithering under the bed. #$%^.


seeing the pictures remind me of the simple, yet bountiful life in the province. everything comes really affordable and fresh.

Mmmm! Driveway eggs! You just KNOW those will be the new food trend.

Considering how long store-bought eggs sit around in less than ideal conditions for weeks on end, I think quickly picked driveway eggs will probably be fine. The ultimate in semi-urban free-range really. :)

-Tableau Vivante

Wow, talk about making out well! I loved the story about the snake...a friend of mine once told me that there would be power outages once in a while in Guam because the snakes would hit a transformer...don't know if it's true, but I found it interesting, of course the same guy told me that telephone poles in Guam were made of consrete as well.

I have just come across your blog and I enjoy it so much! I will be moving to Guam this summer from Japan and you have given so much insight already!!

Do you know of any places on the island to take Chamorro cooking lessons?

Lucky you with the veggies and (I guess) eggs! I've never tried bitter melon, but I've been curious about it.

Sounded from what you said earlier that that snake was a gonner anyway - so you and the pup probably did a good deed... right?

P.S. never got around to commenting on those macarons... but, wow!

hello idle me! i wish i could say guam was as idyllic as the provinces...almost but not quite! and there is nothing more affordable than free :)

tableau vivante (laughing) hey, you think you can start the trend in california? maybe we can get the top chefs to tout driveway eggs as the new hot thing.

hey kirk, those telephone poles gotta withstand 200mph winds during typhoons! most are made of concrete, there are still some wood ones (but considering they're called brown 'tree' snake, wood is an easy climb), and big honking metal ones. we don't get as many outages from snakes these days, but it happens. in the photo i linked to you can see where the transformer blew out, most likely from a slithering snake from the boonies below.

buenas ablykins! i hope you enjoy your stay here--it can be hit or miss for some people, but if you are looking for chamorro cooking lessons already, i think you'll like it here :) unfortunately, i don't know of any classes. there are cooking demos from time to time, especially during chamorro week/month (march), but no formal arrangements outside of schools. the community college has culinary arts classes, and there are home ec classes in the elementary schools. people are pretty darned friendly here, once you are acquainted with folk, they'll totally take you into their kitchen.

cathy, bittermelon is really bitter :) i think it's probably an acquired taste. it's probably best sauteed in savoury sauces with other items so one flavour does not dominate over the others. or at least the bitterness doesn't overpower the others!

some of the dafter hens on the farm used to lay their eggs in the tool shed, which meant sifting through sharp rusty blades to get at them.

if i had seen a snake in my house, i'd be living in a hotel.

ei..that's a complete blog for a sarsiadong ampalaya. saute sliced bittermelons on garlic, onions, tomatoes then quickly stir in a fresh free-range egg....but don't add the dead snake!!!

Oh man, that bittermelon looks like a snake among your tomatoes! Nice photos.

The first thing I thought of when I saw those beautiful tomatoes and bitter melon was pinakbet that my ilocano mom makes for me whenever I go home to Hawaii.

Back in the 80's while visiting my dad on Guam, where he still lives in Dededo, he was bitten on the face while sleeping because he had the bad sense to roll over in his sleep and surprise the snake that was curled up on the other side of his pillow! Needless to say, I checked under the bed and in the closets every day, even though he killed aforementioned snake with a machete, all without waking me.

tommy, salamat for the recipe!

hillary, yike, they do look like snakes. but that snake under the bed does not look like bittermelon....

hello mikknits, omg, i have been *crossing fingers* lucky to have not been bitten by one. i know a girl who is regularly bitten by them, they are always lured to her scent. i think she smells like chicken.