I walked into the Oriental Market and smelled fresh food and rice. I’m telling you they fit more things in that store than in Sentry. There were: drinks, soda, beer, milk, tortillas, Dulian fruit, mustard greens, tofu, bean sprouts, coconut, fish, fish sauce, other kinds of sauces, like soy sauce, bamboo, dried mushrooms, rice (lots 25 kinds), drainers, monster pot (5 times as wide as me), flowers on a stick, brooms and Ramen (57 kinds), movies, books, candy, pots and pans, dolls, bell, decorations and chocolate.
Vue has a book printed in Hmong letters about religions. If you fail school, you can’t go to school any more. If you pass school, you can keep on going through all the grades.
It (Union Oriental Market) is mostly for Asian people, but other people come there, too. There is one place with tons of rice, one place with tons of hot sauce and one place with tons of Ramen noodles.
When I first walked in the door of the Union Oriental Market, I thought, “Oriental?” It looked like a normal grocery store to me. Especially when we passed the first food stands, stands with snacks like peanut butter crackers. Then, milk and frozen fruit. Still normal. But a closer look at the frozen fruit showed things not sold at an average store. For example, Durian fruit. You don’t often see that in a store, or maybe it is just me.
Vue says the big pot is for your community and I can even fit in the pot. Vue said when he was a little boy he didn’t have a metal lunch box so he had to use a wooden lunch box that was made with a kind of stick.
His store has everything from baby bananas to Durian fruit, to mustard greens (no fat!), to frozen foods (whole fish included), to Thai foods. Why, even dishes and at least 50 different kinds of Ramen noodles!
I saw some of the most interesting pots and things I have ever seen there. Some pots were made of wood and we saw a HUGE metal pot (about 1/2 a door), and Mr. Yang told us it was for special occasions, and for village meals (definitely not for house use!).
Vue is a big collector of books. He has a huge amount of books about distinctive Hmong culture, from the written language to marriage.
Vue Yang is a very, very nice man who owns an import store that has a lot of the tastes that we don’t have in this country, like a lot of different Ramens, a lot of sodas that we don’t have. But the highlight of his shop is Asian foods, like rice, spring roll sheets, meats and mustard greens.
They have to go to Chicago to get some of the food. But they got some frozen fish from Thailand and Asia. There are kind of bamboo baskets that they use kind of like lunchboxes to carry rice and chicken and other foods.
There is also a steamer and I think it is made out of bamboo and you put a pot of hot water under it and let the steam come up because the stuff is already cooked so you don’t need water. There is also a crusher which is a bowl with a thing that looks like a pounder to crush the things. It is made out of wood.
There are lots of rice bags and one of them weighs 100 pounds and I don’t know how they carry them out.
It was a long ride from Sheboygan to Green Bay. When we all got into the Union Oriental Market there was fresh food everywhere.
Then he pulled out these books that were in Hmong. There was an ABC alphabet in Hmong.
One fruit that was there was a Dorian fruit. It has some sweet flavor to it. There were some “Hmong” vegetables. One of them was called Thai eggplant.
He has handmade brooms used for sweeping the dirt floor back in Laos. The brush part of the broom has hard, non-ground wheat like bristles.
Hmong also like rice. Vue has a selection of rice, but the favorite is one that is medium size rice.
Vue also talked about Hmong marriages and funerals. Vue has a book about dating and marriage. In Hmong culture it’s not just two people. It’s two families, two villages and two clans. In Hmong culture when a woman gets married she loses her clan name and gains her husbands clan name. (unless she wishes to have both).
Now Vue will talk a little about Hmong funerals: Hmong funerals last much longer than American funerals because the Hmong use rituals to send the spirits to the after life which take days to perform.
Frozen fruit from Thailand that had big spikes all around them. All kinds of sausages. I wonder how they tasted.
When you get married if you get divorced you are rejected and you have to go through lots and lots of ceremonies to get divorced.
When we left Vue gave each child a free Ramen. He had a basket full of treats for each kid to choose from and last of all some Botan Rice candy as we walked out the door.
Vue told us that two people of the same clan cannot marry each other.
When we arrived I saw from the bus window what looked like a very friendly man. He was a friendly man! His name was Vue Yang. Now this name is actually pronounced Vu Ya but that’s NOT what I’m here to talk about.
Someone always had to teach you the Hmong language until they wrote it down on paper. It took a long time but they did it.
There were some things that you wouldn’t see in every grocery store in Madison like a lunch box made of bamboo. “My mom used to throw some rice in there and some chicken and that was my lunch,” Vue said. There was other stuff made from bamboo, such as a rice steamer. “If you steam the rice in a bamboo steamer, it makes it taste better,” commented Vue.
After the tour Vue talked to us about books and his love of reading. he also explained that the Hmong had no written language until the war.
The Union Oriental Market is just like a market but it has culture mixed together so people can meet each other. That way you don’t have to be lonely.
One food that I saw there that grossed me out was when I was the white and blue bag of lion head in one of the fridge things with lots of meat and other foods that have to be kept cool or even frozen.
While we took notes at the Oriental Market, some kids stood but that was too hard for me so I sat on a BIG bag of rice. It felt like, almost sitting on my sofa in the living room at home while watching my favorite video.
There were objects too. There was a woven bamboo basket that said “Laos” across it in different colors. Vue said that when he had gone to school those were to put your lunch in. His mom had put rice in it mostly, but occasionally she would put a chicken leg in.
There was a thing like a mortar and pestle, used for grinding chili pepper and papayas. There was also an enormous pot, used to cook noodles in for big community gatherings.
Vue talked to us about how he plays the qeej at Christian church services. He believes it shouldn’t just be played at funerals and things because it is a happy instrument. He talked about how the Hmong sing. Each different kind of Hmong (Blue Hmong, Black Hmong etc.) has a different way of singing. Hmong call their singing Kwv Txhiaj.
There are many different kinds of fish, tiny bananas, a small kind of root, Hmong style baskets, Ramen noodles, ginger root and many, many, many, many other things.
Vue had nineteen years of school work. The school that he went to was somewhere in France.
The Hmong traditional wedding, you’ll have an umbrella, pigs, cows, chicken, and rice. If the girl marries a guy, the girl has to go to the grooms house. To open the umbrella, you’ll have to wait until the wedding is over.