island style

6 Feb

For those of you who don’t already know, I was born and raised on Guam. When I was thirteen, my family and I moved to Union City, California and I’ve been a Cali girl ever since. If you’ve ever been to Guam or have ever had food from Guam, you most likely tried chicken kelaguen and red rice. Recently, the Manpanion made a special request for these two dishes. Since he asked so nicely, I couldn’t say no.

In truth, it wasn’t until college until I finally realized that chicken kelaguen and red rice (and other food from Guam such as shrimp patties, chicken corn soup, etc.) are NOT Filipino food. Up until then, I just thought my Filipino friends were snobs who thought they were too good for my food. (Granted, the “snob” part is partially true, but I’ll save that conversation for some other time. Perhaps over coffee, should you decide to show me where your favorite coffee place is.)

Admittedly, food is kind of personal to me. I can’t stand it when someone feels the need to judge me for the food I’m eating – especially if I’m eating food I grew up with. For example, in college, Kelly from South Lake Tahoe, the girl in the dorm room next door, always poked fun of the unfamiliar food smells that came from my dorm room. That she thought red rice, BBQ beef, and lumpia were “gross,” lets me know that she was likely born from a jackal. Looking back, I should have followed my instinct and just punched Kelly from South Lake Tahoe when she started making her sorority girl vomit noises at the sight of my food. Oh well. Live an learn…

Anyway, I’m eternally grateful for having grown up on Guam. I firmly believe that people from Guam have this special bond with each other. It’s like, we can instantly pick each other out in a crowd and there’s this instant connection. We share a special experience that no one can ever take away from us. Perhaps this is why I tend to be over-protective with sharing food from Guam. I don’t make it for just anybody. And I definitely don’t share exact recipes. This food is sacred to me. Only those I adore and who I know can respect the food can actually share it with me. This past Christmas, I finally gave the Manpanion his first taste of chicken kelaguen. A few days later, I told my dear friend Brad about it and he said, “Wow. It took you a long time to cook that for him.”

It’s true. It did take a while. I was just waiting for the right time to share. Since then, the Manpanion has had a hankering for the dishes. Last week, I whipped up a batch of red rice. Usually, I leave this for my sister to make. However, after years of avoiding the task (in fear of ruining the batch), I think I finally mastered the art of red rice. Someone once described red rice as a bastardized version of paella. Um, no. Red rice is not bastardized. It’s evolved, thank you.

Next, I whipped up some chicken kelaguen. Again, I did this during Christmas. My mom usually does the kelaguen, but this Christmas I took on the task. The Manpanion liked it so much that he says he doesn’t mind if I make it in huge batches. He can eat this everyday if it was available:) While I won’t make this every week, I thought we were due for some island fare. Kelaguen is one of my favorite dishes because it’s yummy and totally healthy. For those of you who are paleo or primal, this is the ultimate dish (and proof that indigenous islanders are indeed, healthy people)!

Of course, red rice and kelaguen would not be complete without finadenne. I try to keep some stored in the fridge in case the Manpanion wants to put this over white rice. According to my friend Brad, finadenne is what brings it all together. I think many of us agree:)

Much to the Manpanion’s dismay, this batch did not last all week. It made it through two days. Oh well. I guess I’ll have to make a bigger batch next time!

Live deliciously!


4 Responses to “island style”

  1. itziemae February 6, 2012 at 12:20 pm #

    I want some! I miss your red rice and chicken kelaguen. I think kelaguen as a method of preparing food is very similar to the Filipino kilawin which uses vinegar, coconut milk, and even calamansi juice.

  2. jlrondilla February 6, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

    Yes, I definitely think kelaguen and kilawin are cousins. I’m always amazed at how different dishes across cultures are related. For example, Jose grew up on something called atole, which to me, kinda tastes like ginataang mais. On Guam, there is a similar dish to ginataang mais called atole. Funny:)

  3. GladysN February 6, 2012 at 10:08 pm #

    yes, lots of mexican equivalents to filipino food as well, and some dishes like champorado (champurrado in spanish) are ALMOST the same but not quite. i love all of the cognates and similarities! anyway, i feel lucky to have been gifted with your kelaguen and red rice recipes. ❤ the finadene is something else i have to make…how do you say that word, by the way? 🙂

    • jlrondilla February 7, 2012 at 2:13 am #

      I’ll have to pronounce it the next time I’m on the phone with you:)

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