Friday, May 20, 2016
FINO' GUAM, FINO' SAIPAN
In English, we know them as "sea cucumbers."
As a kid, I wondered if they could be eaten like regular cucumbers. I soon found out, when I stepped on one, and got covered in its sticky spaghetti-like innards, that they were nothing like regular cucumbers.
I learned later that they were once prized by many Asians as a source of food and medicine. Europeans and Americans came to our islands collecting (what they called) trepang or bêche-de-mer, to sell in Asian markets.
But what do we call these annoying sea slugs in Chamorro?
On Guam, they're called balåti.
In Saipan, babalåti.
Maybe the Saipan Chamorros are on to something. I don't like sea cucumbers, so, yes, they are båba! Babalåti!