January 23, 2004, Volume 4 Number 4
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
"Kung Hei Fat Choy!" which of course is "Happy New Year of Peace & Prosperity" in Chinese. Since Thursday, January 22 marks the Year 4701 on the Lunar Calendar, not only are the Chinese celebrating but many other Asians as well, including Koreans and Vietnamese. On Guam, however, more attention is given to the Chinese celebrations. It is interesting to note the differences between traditional Western New Year's celebrations with the parties, resolutions and foods, and the Chinese, who make a much grander deal of the whole annual time change. The Lunar New Year Calendar dates back to 2600 BC, and is based on the cycles of the moon. It takes 60 years for a complete cycle to occur, and this period is comprised of five cycles of 12 years each. Each year is named after an animal, whose character and personality traits are ascribed to those born in each particlar year of the cycle. This is the Year of the Monkey, which means we're in for a fun, exciting, and stimulating year of activities, many of which will be parties. Western New Year's celebrations, on the other hand, don't have the history nor the cosmology of the Lunar New Year. Certain foods, like red beans and rice, or black-eyed peas and cornbread are some of the traditional foods for bringing good luck in the the American South. Some of the traditional Chinese dishes for New Year's include whole steamed fish, long noodles (for long life), Lion's Head Meatballs (a Shanghai dish) with manes made of Bok Choy which is considered good for power, and foods wrapped in lettuce for good luck. It would be an interesting and revealing study to find out more about how the foods around the world can affect or determine our behavior. As a lover of food, I may just take this up as a personal quest. Enjoy your day and the rest of this year!
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
In This Issue:
Big Stomach Restaurant's Good Food Eating Contest Thrills Audience
Last Saturday's Chinese New Year Festival had numerous events which several thousand residents enjoyed, however the one that "took the noodle" was the Big Stomach Restaurant's Good Food Eating Contest in which seven contestants vied for some rather impressive prizes including a Weekend Stay at the Guam Palace Hotel with meals, etc. This event was truly a spectacle, one which you would have to actually see to really appreciate the effort involved. Imagine you had ten pounds of cooked noodles with meat and vegetables on a platter in front of you, and that you had 3 minutes to eat as much as you could. Well, the crowd watching these seven contestants went wild as they saw these guys, most of them fairly stout dudes, shove forkful after forkful of noodles into their mouths. I was asked to be a judge by the organizers so I was on stage for the duration, and watched this eating frenzy. I laughed when some in the audience said I should be competing...no, these guys are out of my league! The winner was able to eat nearly 2 pounds of noodles...an amazing volume of food when you consider the density of noodles. We were concerned about the water bottles placed in front of the contestants to help "wash" down the noodles as they swallowed, since the water would eventually cause the noodles to swell in the belly. There were five prizes given out to the top five finishers. However, everyone was a winner, since they were given "doggie trays" to take home their leftover noodles - enough to savor the rest of the month, no doubt!!!
Around the Island - Valentine's Specials, Girl Scout Cookies Are Here!
Joining UnderWater World and Sam Choy's in getting their Valentine's specials out early are Hagatna's Le Tasi Bistro and Planet Hollywood. Chef Bertrand of LTB has created a menu entitled "Ballade Provencale" for this special night. Love Apples with Hearts of Goat Cheese, Filet Mignon layered with Provencale Vegetables and laced with an Elixir of St. Emilion are just some of the delights on this menu. Call Mari Carmen at 472-7877 to make your reservations. Planet Hollywood offers a "Sweetheart's Menu" which includes Shrimp Bisque with a Heart Shaped Crouton, Strawberry Mousse and Korbel Champagne. Guests also receive a special Valentine's gift and tickets to the movie of their choice at the Micronesia Mall! Call Planet Hollywood at 647-7827 for reservations and information. Check the link on the front page of GuamDiner.com for more Valentine's Day specials as they become available.
I had the special opportunity to witness the unloading and distribution of Girl Scout Cookies to the various Guam Girl Scout troops this past weekend. It was amazing the amount of cookies this island consumes...one troop needed a 40 foot container to haul their cookie order to their point of distribution! The generous folks at Cost-U-Less in Tamuning have made this a tradition, so they've got the logistics and process down pat, with their forklift moving pallet after pallet of Girl Scout Cookies. You should be hearing from your local Girl Scout cookie salesperson soon with your order delivery. For more information on where you can get cookies (if you've not ordered - heaven forbid!), call the Guam Girl Scout Center at 646-5652 or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
An Evening with Wyland - February 12 Outrigger Guam Resort
Internationally-acclaimed marine artist and legend, Wyland, will be on Guam next month to produce a mural for the Guam International Airport. His renowned "Whaling Walls" (he's completed over 84, with Palau Airport's being one of the most recent), have captured the hearts and minds of audiences worldwide with their stunning depiction of the marine ecosystem. A special evening engagement will be held at 6:30pm at the Outrigger Guam Resort, during which you will have the opportunity to meet this great artist. A donation of $25 will assure your entrance to this special event with proceeds to benefit the American Red Cross and the Wyland Foundation. Tickets are available at Guam Tropical Dive Station. For more information, call 472-4837.
Thai Kitchen Impresses Again and Again - Adventurous Dining is Rewarded
There's Thai food, then there's Thai Kitchen. Today we pay tribute to owner Toy McGurk, proprietress of this well-regarded and oft-frequented establishment. On entering this Tamuning restaurant, located in the Cen-Tam Building's southern side, Thai Kitchen's ambiance is everything "Thai", from the wall art and ornaments, to the table cloths, woven placemats, and ceramic serving ware. I was first taken by Toy's cooking when I spent nights dining at the legendary Pim's Place, closed now for over 6 years. Talking to Toy is fun, as she is both charming and wise, with smiling eyes and a happy face, you get the impression that she is the keeper of a secret that she loves to share...and share she does with her culinary magic!
We ordered a Papaya Salad (Som Tom $7), with it's refreshing, palate-scrubbing combination of shredded green papaya, fresh tomatoes, roasted peanuts, carrots, lettuce, bean sprouts, and crunchy string beans, all drenched in a special spicy sauce, it is an essential element to be ordered with other foods as it is a digestive aid packed with nutrition. It is a vegetarian favorite, too, that can be enjoyed anytime.
We also ordered the Tofu Soup ($6.50), Combination Pad Thai ($8), and Pineapple Curry with Shrimp ($10). If I could recommend something about eating any kind of food, it would be to keep trying a new appetizer, soup, or entree whenever you go to your favorite places. It just so happened that today we had the Tofu Soup, which is made with ground chicken (there's lots of this in it), tofu, bean sprouts, green onions, broccoli spears, and cilantro. The clear broth was addictive, with each spoonful delivering an enervating essence, something meant to heal and cure. This was the kind of eating that I enjoy, when you taste something so good you make approving and joyful sounds as you chew and swallow. Imagine if everything you ate could do that!!
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