Hmongs Enjoy Eating American Corn and Doughnuts Are Adopted, Traditions Endure - and the Search for Purple Rice Goes on Series: NEW ASIAN CUISINES IN AMERICA. Part 1 of a Series

By Phyllis Hanes, Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, July 11, 1990 | Go to article overview

Hmongs Enjoy Eating American Corn and Doughnuts Are Adopted, Traditions Endure - and the Search for Purple Rice Goes on Series: NEW ASIAN CUISINES IN AMERICA. Part 1 of a Series


Phyllis Hanes, Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


WHILE exotic, Far East dishes - fragrant with lemongrass, ginger, and coriander - intrigue mainstream America, Laotians new to the United States are becoming enamored of an all-American vegetable: corn on the cob.

"My mother grows corn in her garden," says Ly Kue, a Hmong social worker from Laos. "When it is fresh from the fields, we cook a lot in a big pot and put it all on the table to make a real feast of it with plenty of butter," she says.

There are some 15,000 Southeast Asian immigrants living in Rhode Island today, 2,500 of them Hmong. All but a handful of these Asian immigrants - Vietnamese and Cambodians, too - arrived in the late '70s, at the close of the Vietnam war. Xang (Sam) Xiong, Miss Kue's fiance, is a manager at the Socio-Economic Development Center for Southeast Asians. Sam came to Providence with his parents and two of his five brothers in 1976, at a time when there were only five other Hmong families in the state. Today, his parents and three brothers (now married) still live nearby.

The Hmong, rural people who eat simple, well-balanced food, are too hardworking, perhaps, to follow in the footsteps of their immigrant forbears. Chinese, Indian, and other ethnic groups popularized their cuisines by opening restaurants intended to serve their own populations. The Hmong, however, don't seem to eat out. Their contribution is more likely to be in the production end: They are prodigious farmers. Meanwhile, the Hmong seem quite happy to adapt American habits and foodstuffs, contribute to the larger community, and preserve their culture.

Mr. Xiong's mother, Song Xiong, grows corn. But more important, she grows vegetables native to her country that are unknown or scarce in local markets. The Hmong raised many of their own foods in Laos, and most brought seeds with them or had them sent from home. Snow peas, coriander, onions, and Oriental greens are easy to spot in the small community garden plot near her home.

A visitor here is greeted by the pungent, sweet, aroma of fresh coriander mixed with the sharp tang of freshly pulled scallions. Xiong waves to several women weeding with hoes - her cousins, she explains.

In a second, larger community garden plot in nearby Cranston, R.I., she has interplanted corn with a climbing bean or cucumber - for each plant, a corn stalk to climb. Between each corn and bean combination she has planted a special, leafy Hmong green that is somewhat like a combination of lettuce and mustard green.

This leafy green is the main herb-vegetable in Hmong cooking and is called zaub ntsuab. Xiong gave me a small plate of pickled zaub to taste. It has a pleasant, lemony-sour flavor. "It's a fine dish for hot summer meals," says Nhia Xiong, Sam's father. It is often prepared as a bowl of zaub ntsuab, literally, "vegetables without salt." The broth or cooking water is reserved for drinking.

Song was expecting relatives on this day, and her son Xia is in the kitchen wrapping rice paper around a filling for spring rolls while his wife Maly cooks them in hot oil.

Short-grain rice cooks in a steamer made of straw. Song, who tends her grandchildren as carefully as her garden, carries her youngest grandchild on her back in a handsome, hand-embroidered back strap.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Hmongs Enjoy Eating American Corn and Doughnuts Are Adopted, Traditions Endure - and the Search for Purple Rice Goes on Series: NEW ASIAN CUISINES IN AMERICA. Part 1 of a Series
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.