This month’s Saveur features a profile of a Hmong farming family living in California’s Central Valley. If you live in California or the upper Midwest, you’ve probably met Hmong at the weekly farmers’ market, where they sell a blend of American staple foods and Asian imports such as bitter melons and lemongrass.
The story covers everything from Hmong ethnic history to the family’s preference for organic (in other words, traditional) methods of farming to the generational divide between the parents and the American-born-and-raised kids.
But a good chunk of the fun comes from reading the names of Hmong dishes. Saveurtrue to its commendable pedigreerenders them in a manner that is authentic but not particularly accessible to American eyes. Thus, you get to read the recipe for Xwbkuab Kib Xyaw Nqaij Nyug and daydream about how Hmong kids must react when subjected to leftovers one too many times.
“Oh, no. Mom! Not Xwbkuab again. Could you please please please just make some Dib Iab Kib Xyaw Koojtis Qaib? Or maybe order some Papa John’s?”