Citizens! Today is Part 3 of my recipe posts from the South Pacific, all from states or regions where my dear cousin Stephen Levine has lived over the course of his life chasing waves, helping the innocent as an attorney and now spending his time as a photographic artist on Maui! He was previously involved in helping to govern the U.S. protectorate of Micronesia and also spent some time on the island of Guam – the subject of today’s recipe and geopolitics lesson!
Why do I say geopolitics in a blog devoted to food and history? In this case, because not one week ago fate threw the Sovereign of Serendipity – YOUR TFD! – a huge bone to help me write this very post! You may have seen the news that the freshman congresswoman from Georgia – the QAnon-spouting, antisemite Marjorie Taylor Greene – made a huge gaffe by claiming that Guam was undeserving of U.S. aid because it’s a foreign country.
Well, she was immediately schooled on THAT front, as noted in this article from Business Insider:
GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia was offered cookies and a geography lesson by leaders in Guam after she falsely suggested the US territory is a foreign country that didn’t deserve aid.
In comments at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Florida in late February that surfaced on Tuesday, Greene said: “I’m a regular person. And I wanted to take my regular-person, normal, everyday American values, which is, we love our country. We believe our hard-earned tax dollars should just go for America, not for what? China, Russia, the Middle East, Guam, whatever, wherever.”
Michael San Nicolas, Guam’s delegate in the House, told The Guam Daily Post, “Congresswoman Greene is a new member, and we will be paying a visit to her and delivering delicious Chamorro Chip Cookies as part of our ongoing outreach to new members to introduce them to our wonderful island of Guam.”
The office of Guam’s governor, Lourdes Aflague Leon Guerrero, offered educational resources to Greene. “We would be more than happy to send Representative Greene’s office a copy of ‘Destiny’s Landfall: A History of Guam,'” Krystal Paco-San Agustin, the director of communications for the governor, told The Post.
Greene’s office did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Guam, an island in the west Pacific Ocean, has been a US territory since 1898, following the Spanish-American War. Its residents are US citizens who pay federal taxes, but not federal income tax. Many people in Guam serve in the US military, and it’s considered to be of vital strategic importance.
North Korea threatened the territory in 2017, and the top US commander in the Indo-Pacific earlier this week called for upgrading defensive capabilities on Guam, citing threats from China.
Guam residents cannot vote for president and do not have a vote in Congress. Like other US territories, Guam sends a nonvoting delegate to Congress. There are close to 6,200 active-duty US troops in Guam, which is home to roughly 170,000 people.
So – as a proud, card-carrying member of her so-called Jewish global conspiracy with direct and immediate access to the firing controls of the orbiting Jewish Space Laser, allow me a moment to both laugh hysterically at such profound ignorance in an elected official while now moving away from partisan politics into my true comfort zone of recipes and history!
Let’s delve a bit into the history of Guam as noted in this fascinating excerpt from an article in Smithsonian Magazine:
A Brief, 500-Year History of Guam
The Chamorro people of this Pacific island have long been buffeted by the crosswinds of foreign nations
That Guam once again finds itself in the crosshairs of foreign adversaries is nothing new. It was 500 years ago, in 1521, when Ferdinand Magellan’s ships, weary and hungry, pulled up to this island, beginning 300 years of Spanish conquest. Nowadays most Americans, if they know of Guam at all, think of this and neighboring Saipan as sites of World War II battles. It was from neighboring Tinian that the Enola Gay took off to drop the bomb on Hiroshima. And as is always the case in these struggles between external powers, the presence of the Chamorro, the indigenous peoples of the islands, is lost.
Most Americans likely have some inkling that Guam exists and is somehow American. Few know how or why. While geographically, Guam is among the Mariana Islands, so named by Spanish missionaries in 1668, it is a separate U.S. territory from the Northern Mariana Islands, which is technically a commonwealth. Guam remains on the United Nations list of 17 non-self-governing territories—colonies, that, under the U.N. charter, should be de-colonized. It’s “American soil,” but the residents do not have full American citizenship, and cannot vote in presidential elections. They have a non-voting representative to Congress.
In 2002, I conducted community-based research in the southern village of Inarahan (Inalahan in Chamorro). The project, Pacific Worlds, is an indigenous-geography cultural documentation and education project, sponsored by Pacific Resources for Education and Learning (PREL). Later I did a similar project in Tanapag village on nearby Saipan, part of the Northern Mariana Islands, and published a paper about the history of colonialism (American, in particular) in the region.
I do not speak for the Chamorro people, but as a scholar of colonialism and indigeneity, who was taught directly by the people who shared their lives with me. The full community study, with maps, photos and illustrations, can be found here, but given the current circumstances, a short history is merited.
People arriving from islands off Southeast Asia, most likely Taiwan, settled Guam and the Marianas more than 4,000 years ago. One could sail west-to-east from the Philippines to the Marianas just by following the sun. A clan-based society arose by 800 A.D. that included villages characterized by impressive latte houses, one-story houses set atop rows of two-piece stone columns; these were still in use as late as 1668. Archaeological evidence indicates rice cultivation and pottery making prior to European arrival in the 16th century. By then, the Chamorros had developed a complex, class-based matrilineal society based on fishing and agriculture, supplemented by occasional trade visits from Caroline Islanders.
The Mariana Islands proved not terribly useful to the Spanish. “Magellan’s view of the world as a Portuguese Catholic in the early 1500s did not help the encounter,” explains Anne Perez Hattori, a Chamorro historian at the University of Guam. “On seeing the Chamorros, he did not view them as his equals…. He definitely viewed them as pagans, as savages…. [T]he Chamorros took things. And then because of that, Magellan calls the islands the ‘Islands of Thieves.’”
Magellan’s characterization of the Chamorros as “thieves,” discouraged further European intrusion; and while some ships still visited, the Chamorros lived in relative isolation for the next century or so. The nearby Philippines, where traders found an entryway to the Chinese market, attracted most of the seafarers from abroad.
That all changed when an aggressive Jesuit missionary, Father San Vitores, arrived in the Marianas in 1668. Relations were tense with occasional violence. In 1672, San Vitores secretly baptized the infant daughter of a local chief, Matå‘pang, against the chief’s wishes, a last straw that ended with San Vitories’ death.
His death was the turning point that transformed this hitherto-ignored Spanish outpost into a subjugated Spanish colony.
“After San Vitores dies, the military took over the mission, so it became really a war of subjugation,” Hattori says. Twenty-six years of Spanish-Chamorro wars ensued that, along with introduced diseases, decimated the population. By 1700, just 5,000 Chamorros—some 10 percent of their former number—remained.
The Spanish then began transporting Chamorros from the northern islands to Guam, where they could control them—a process that took nearly a century, as the fast native canoes could outrun the larger and slower Spanish ships and elude capture. Canoe culture was then banned to keep them from escaping.
Once on Guam, the Chamorros were resettled into newly created villages, each under the watchful eye of a Spanish priest. And so began the assimilation of the Chamorros. They lost their millennia-old connections to the land, their traditions and their stories. Today, the Chamorro language retains its traditional grammar, but 55 percent of the vocabulary borrows from Spanish.
Nonetheless, indigenous culture continued in other ways—in values, in traditions surrounding weddings and funerals, in housing styles, and many other forms not obvious to the outsider. Small-island living requires a system of codes and practices, evolved over millennia, which no outside culture can replace, even today.
The Spanish maintained a lazy rule over the islands for the next century and a half. The northern islands were off limits, until typhoon-devastated Caroline Islanders arrived from the south—as was their traditional practice—looking for temporary shelter around 1815. The Spanish governor settled them on Saipan, where they still live alongside of—if not intermarried with—Chamorros who were allowed to return there in the mid-19th century.
The Spanish empire was approaching its twilight years by the time the United States acquired California from Mexico in 1848, an era when the ideology of “manifest destiny” justified aggressive American expansion.
By 1898, with the Spanish-American War, the nation’s ambitions expanded beyond the U.S. continent, and extended American “Indian-hating” to the far western Pacific.
The Spanish troops and officials stationed in Guam were at first glad to have visitors when the USS Charleston arrived. They didn’t know that war had been declared between the two nations, and mistook their cannon fire for a salute. A peaceful transfer of power ensued.
The 1898 Treaty of Paris between Spain and the U.S. would later formalize the handover of Guam. The reason why Guam remains a U.S. territory, while the rest of Micronesia is not, can be traced to an ironic accident of history and geography. The American negotiators neglected to inquire about the Spanish claims to the rest of the Marianas and much more of Micronesia, and Spain quickly sold these other islands to Germany. Thus began a rift between the Chamorros of Guam and those of the Northern Mariana Islands.
Guam has persisted under American rule to the present day, while the northern islands experienced first almost two decades of benign German rule, then nearly three decades under the thumb of the Japanese empire, which took all of Germany’s Pacific territories at the outset of World War I.
Now – with the status and history of Guam and the native Chamorro people properly cleared up – let’s discuss the recipe for the delicious and spicy condiment that is ubiquitous across the island and beloved by all who try it – finadene’!
As noted in Barbecue Sauces Rubs and Marinades by Steven Raichlen:
This salty-tart condiment constitutes barbecue sauce in Guam (motto: “Where the sun first rises over American barbecue”).
When it comes to counterpointing the fatty richness of barbecued pork or adding tart umami flavors to grilled seafood, few sauces can beat this sauce.
Finadene’ (pronounced “fee-na-DEE-nee) echoes the Filipino flavor triad of soy sauce, vinegar, and onion, but with tiny fiery chiles for heat. Some versions are quite mild; others downright incendiary—your dose of chiles should suit your heat tolerance.
Now, the literal translation of finadene’ means “made with pepper or donne’”, the Chamorro word for hot chili pepper.
Finadene’ is a staple in virtually every Chamorro home and is served with most meals. Most pour it over freshly-steamed rice or over a meat of choice. There are many, many ways to prepare finadene’. Soy sauce is usually the main ingredient, complemented with an acidic ingredient that ranges from white vinegar to cider vinegar, coconut vinegar, lemon juice or lime juice…it’s all up to you.
The addition of scallion, onion, spicy hot chili peppers and sliced cherry tomatoes completes this simple and tangy condiment! It’s by no means difficult to make, and can be adjusted to your preference – there is no ‘right’ way to make this! I love it with a mix of jalapeño and Thai ‘rat-dropping’ chilis for a bit of serious heat!
That said – while my finadene’ is quite classic in its proportions and ingredients, I do make one change that suits my palate (it wouldn’t be a TFD recipe without a bit of my culinary magic, after all!). In my case, I also add a bit of Maggi Seasoning, which adds a hit of umami that I find rounds out the condiment very well – I am not overly fond of American Maggi Seasoning, but the version from Germany works very well indeed to my palate! 🙂 Remember that a little Maggi goes a LONG WAY – be sparing the first time you use it!
Citizens, I have every confidence that like me, you will start using this spicy/salty/sour condiment on many different things – it’s delicious on scrambled eggs, for example, as well as plain white rice. Try it and know the truth about this Guamian classic recipe, perhaps as a dipping sauce accent for this classic dish from another South Pacific island – Tahiti! Thank you again, cousin Stephen, for being such an inspiration to me in my formative years all the way through to today!
Battle on – the GeneralissimoPrint
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