If the spice of island life could be narrowed down to a key component, Guam’s spice of life might very well be the donne’ (pepper). Donne’ is a staple ingredient in Chamorro cuisine, and it is essential in a wide range of local dishes including kelaguen, pickled mango and papaya, barbeque marinades, and Guam’s signature dipping sauce, finadene. Just about anything on a fiesta table can be, and often is, kicked up a notch with local pepper. In fact, Guam loves pika (hot and spicy) so much that every year in September the Mangilao Donne’ is held to celebrate the red-hot local pepper.
At the Mangilao Donne’ Festival, cooking competitions are held to determine who can stand the heat and who makes the best kadun pika (spicy chicken stew), dinanche (hot pepper paste) and chili. Vendors sell snack foods, fiesta plates and icy drinks while others sell handcrafted items, gifts and souvenirs. Carnival games entice children with toys and even cute rabbits and birds as prizes. And it wouldn’t be a Guam celebration without the smell of barbecue wafting from hot smoky grills or the sound of local musicians playing island tunes.
Local farmers and horticulturalists also set up shop at the festival and display rows of local produce and plants, including local and international pepper plants. This is everyone’s chance to purchase and take home a pepper plant, ensuring a personal year-round supply of hot peppers.