It seems there's a cookbook for every niche these days--Thoroughly Modern Milkshakes, anyone?--so it's a bit surprising that a major ethnic group hasn't ever had its own commercially published cookbook. But when I went looking for some Hmong cookbooks last year, all I found, between the public library and the Hmong Cultural Center, were two slim pamphlets on Hmong cookery. One, a class project, looked as if it had been keyed on a typewriter and bound at Kinko's. The other was basically a report from a government nutrition study. Even though the Hmong make up the largest Asian group in the state, documenting the cookery of the highly nomadic group has always been on the back burner. But perhaps now tri-color dessert (pictured) may be the thoroughly modern milkshake...
Cooking from the Heart ihas done a remarkable job to detail this uncharted culinary territory. The book features more than 100 recipes, lots of color phots, and brief essays and poems regarding the importance of food in Hmong culture. Looking through the book (I haven't tried cooking anything yet), I saw recipes for many dishes I've eaten around town--green papaya salad, egg rolls, stuffed chicken wings, tri-color dessert, etc. There's also interesting information on Hmong culinary traditions regarding funerals, childbirth, etc.
The authors will be in town from the West Coast to give readings--and share food samples--tonight and Saturday.
Thursday, May 21, 2009 Talk & Book Signing 3:00-5:00 pm Hmong Cultural Center 995 University Avenue West Suite 214 Sunrise Market Building Saint Paul, MN 55104 (651) 917-9937 http://www.hmongcc.org/
Food samples and refreshments will be served. The Hmong Cultural Center's Dancers and Qeej players will also perform. Books will be available for purchase. Sponsors of this event include: University of Minnesota Press, Hmong Cultural Center's Hmong Resource Center Library, the Immigration History Research Center, the University of Minnesota's Asian American Studies Program, and Hmong ABC Bookstore..
Saturday, May 23, 2009 Book Signing 10:30 am Mill City Farmers Market 704 2nd Street S. Minneapolis, MN 55401 612.341.7580 http://www.millcityfarmersmarket.org/
Saturday, May 23, 2009 Talk & Book Signing 2:00 pm Barnes & Noble-HarMar Mall 2100 North Snelling Ave Roseville, MN 55113 651-639-9256