The plan was to share my Hmongtown Marketplace with my friend Suzanne. The result was a half-day of Poking Around in one of the community’s treasures. Though for Hmong Americans and Frogtown residents the Marketplace is a second home and sole source provider of known commodities, it’s a drive-by location for those who whiz by the former lumber yard on Como near the State Capitol.
Pull in the parking lot ( like every street in the Twin Cities, it does need repair) and plunge into another world – a world in which English is definitely not the first language, where wondrous fruits require a how-to lesson from the vendor, where the delicate aroma of Hmong sausage, egg rolls, stick rice and a zillion other taste treats prove irresistible.
Most of all, it’s world where the awkward native Twin Citian is embraced, literally, by the owners (Toua Xiong and Nou Vang and their family) and by the scores of vendors.
Suzanne and I poked into every nook and cranny, paying rapt attention as Nou graciously escorted, introduced, and explained the vendors and their wares.
At one point Nou asked if I were looking for anything specific. Doting grandma that I am I targeted my one and only grandson Will Birmingham, age 19 months. We sped to the top-of-the-line shop for boys’ togs where Nou introduced us, then surreptitiously purchased a Hmong suit for Will. The result captures the splendor of the suit and the unbounded delight of an Irish American boy from Northeast Minneapolis who may never again settle for Carter’s
Original post from Twin Cities Daily Planet. http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/news/2010/06/28/mn-voices-toua-xiong-immigrant-year