Gerard and his wife, Mary Aflague, were born and raised in Guam and have family ties that run deep in the CNMI.
Partner that with the passion and desire to preserve the legacy of the Chamoru culture by highlighting the culinary traditions of the people in the Marianas and you have the book, Chamoru Cuisine: A Marianas Cultural Legacy.
Now based in Colorado, Gerard said that they wanted to write a book that he could share with family, friends, and the world about food and dishes in the Marianas. Rather than compartmentalizing Guam versus the Northern Marianas Islands, he wanted to bring all the islands together in one book.
“Mary and I have collaborated in many children-themed books. However, this is the first time that we’ve published a comprehensive book of this size. …I realized there was an opportunity to create a book of culture and cuisine and make it a ‘One Marianas’ concept. …My grandmother, Anna Calvo, was born on Rota. I have relatives married to people from the CNMI and these make for a love that we have for all the islands and what they are able to offer. …We knew that we could be a force for bringing our people together to show a sense of solidarity,” he said.
“…We think that our first edition of Chamoru Cuisine shouts of a ‘One Marianas’ concept. …We are one people as a Marianas group and we need to think more along those lines. I know there are many people from Guam that also have connections like us to the Northern Marianas,” he said.
Chamoru Cuisine: A Marianas Cultural Legacy is not just a book about cooking. Packed with cultural wisdom and knowledge, it is also about a Chamoru family’s legacy, framing aspects of Chamoru culture and sharing an abundance of culinary insights and the tasty cuisine of Guam, Rota, Tinian, and Saipan. It aims to be both inspirational and educational.
“Our book offers short cultural narratives, history of Chamoru cuisine, island images and over 100 recipes that the we share, among other things. Think of our book as a Marianas recipe book that also offers imagery and narratives to offer context about the Chamoru people, language, and culture,” Gerard said.
“…It is a Chamoru recipe book that aims to integrate all four Mariana islands to frame a sense of solidarity among us as a people with a common language, culture, and cuisine. …People can expect a legacy book that would be a valuable reference for families, communities and the rest of the world. …It offers an opportunity to learn about an ancient culture and a little-known but tasty Chamoru cuisine to discover and try for themselves,” Gerard added.
The motivation and inspiration to write this book came from personal experiences. “…The moments took place in 2017 when our family returned home to assist my siblings with caring for our elderly parents who fell ill. While we took turns to take care of them at the hospital and at home, we witnessed the reciprocity of the islanders’ acts of kindness coming to life. We observed many people showing their compassion—offering to visit and share their time, help care, pray, sing with them and bring home-cooked Chamoru dishes,” Gerard said.
“After my mother passed, we reflected on and appreciated this beautiful and genuine community of support. We were determined to return to our Colorado home to preserve these cultural values that could otherwise be lost…and we were set on capturing the beautiful people of the Marianas for our children and their children to see,” he added.
With over 400 pages, it took an incredible amount of time to research topics and prepare the dishes featured in the book. “…This book was truly a family affair. …We even spent countless hours shopping, cooking, tasting and judging whether it was worthy of adding to our book. We got our children involved in a variety of ways. …We feel confident that our decisions helped us craft a great first edition and the book represent our people well,” he said.
In selecting what dishes to feature, Gerard said they started with family favorites, recipes that were passed down from their parents and grandparents. “These timeless, tried-and-true dishes were an essential part of our gatherings. …We also selected many homestyle recipes our parents cooked for many years. We were also receptive to recipes that we have always wanted to create or recreate, some of which we have described as being island-style. In many of our select recipes, we try to use wholesome ingredients available to people,” he added.
Gerard hopes that people in the Marianas will continue to perpetuate and preserve this beautiful Chamoru legacy. “We feel that we have a responsibility to do just that and that is how Chamoru Cuisine came to life. Continue to enjoy food around the table, have meaningful discussions with your children and share with them the importance of food in our culture,” he added.
Chamoru Cuisine: A Marianas Cultural Legacy is only $ 44.95. Order a personalized autographed copy on ChamoruCuisine.com by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or send a message on WhatsApp at 703-508-9989.rard Aflague, Food, Lifestyle, Local