Tuesday, April 19, 2011



In my childhood home, raised by a grandmother born in 1899, Lent meant abstinence even for a child of 5.  When I think of Lent, I think of Gollai Monggos - Mongo or Mung beans, Chamorro style.

My mañaina were not gourmet Chamorro cooks.  They were the Chamorro version of "meat and potatoes," meaning "meat and rice."  Perhaps they were Zen Chamorros; simplicity and practicality over sensuality and indulgence.

So for Lent, we had Gollai Monggos every Friday.  It was somewhat deceptive.  It looked and tasted like ordinary Gollai Monggos, except that the Lenten version lacked ham hock.  I think the only things that went into the pot were sautéed onions and garlic, coconut milk, salt and pepper and maybe a touch of vinegar.  My mañaina liked vinegar and the trait passed down to me.

When I cook it now, I do the same, except that I definitely put in some vinegar, especially the sugar cane kind, and ginger.  And cayenne pepper.

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