I wanted to make a dessert for a party celebrating a dear friend’s advancement to the rank of United States Coast Guard Chief. She is a native of Guam, so I scoured blogs for traditional Chamorro fare and took parts from several recipes to create this sweet treat.
Apparently, Latiya (pronounced “Lat-tee-zah”) is the dessert of choice served at all Chamorro gatherings. It has just a few ingredients, is fairly easy to make, and requires no baking. The secret is in getting the custard-like filling to the right consistency but not overcooking.
To my utmost delight, it was deemed perfect by not only the Chamorro father, aunt, uncles, cousin and friends, but most importantly by the honoree, as well as delicious by those of us Americans having it for the first time. I shared my extensive research and we had a fun banter about the use of eggs (I didn’t), amount of vanilla (I used 1/2 teaspoon instead a full teaspoon), layering of the pound cake versus leaving space for the custard between slices, and the appropriate amount of cinnamon sprinkled on top. What it all comes down to is the cook’s preference … and in a Chamorro kitchen, the cook is always right!
And the absolute most important ingredient in food at a Chamorro gathering? Love in heaping portions. I put plenty of that in this recipe for Chief Isa Mariano!
Note: “Chamorro” is the term for the indigenous natives of the Mariana Islands, including Guam. “Guamanian” is the term used for those strictly from the island of Guam, not the neighboring islands.