Wednesday, January 13, 2016


Our people, in general, like their food spicy hot.

And nature has given us the very thing to achieve that - the donne' pepper, of which there are many kinds.

When the donne' pepper is prepared (the Chamorro word fa', or "to make"), it becomes fina'denne'. Donne' that is prepared.

Usually, fina'denne' is donne'' swimming in soy sauce, or vinegar or lemon juice, often with onion slices added. People then dip their food into this sauce or spoon it over the food.

In Guam, when the donne'' is mashed (ma gulek) into a paste, usually with salt and maybe some vinegar added for flavor and preservation, it is called fina'denne' dinanche. Dinanche means "correct." Others call it donne' dinanche. Same thing.

I suppose the name came about because people had the idea that donne'' that is prepared this way is donne' that is prepared "just right" or "correctly," meaning "most pleasing to the palate."

It should be remembered that the Chamorro verb danche can also mean "to hit a target" or "hit the mark." So, fina'denne' dinanche is to "get it just right."

Purists will say that fina'denne' dinanche is just the donne' paste with some salt and vinegar. But many others add a wide variety of extra ingredients which differ from home to home. Some add string beans, onions, garlic, coconut crab meat, imitation crab meat, coconut milk, lemon juice, finely chopped pumpkin tips and even mayonnaise. I think the variations will continue to evolve into the future.

In the Northern Marianas, which has more Japanese influence, some add miso paste.

But the purists will say that such fina'denne' dinanche is not dinanche!

In Saipan, no one called it fina'denne' dinanche. Recently, some in Saipan have started to call it so, because of Guam's influence.

Otherwise, the Chamorros of Saipan just called it donne' or fina'denne'.

But in Saipan there is another name for it : donne' chosen.

Chosen (some pronounce it Chosing) is an old Japanese way of naming Koreans. Koreans do not appreciate the name and it should not be used among them.

Guam Chamorros are unfamiliar with the term Chosen because we on Guam did not have a Korean community on our island before the war, unlike the thousands of Korean workers brought into the Saipan in the 1920s and 30s by the Japanese. Japan ruled Korea before World War II.

The Saipan Chamorros, observing the Koreans (or Chosen) and their love for the chili pepper in their food, started to call donne' paste after the Koreans.

I asked someone from Saipan what he thought of the Guam term fina'denne' dinanche.

He chuckled and said, "Todo fina'denne' dinanche."

"All fina'denne' is correct."

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