Residents taste Hmong food and learn about culture at Messenger Public Library; Culinary Historians seek Community Cookbooks
May 31, 2019 02:25PM
By Hannah Ott
Lia Xiong of Montgomery, right, prepares pork and greens at a tasting Wednesday, May 22, to culminate "Hmong Foodways and Culture" at Messenger Public Library in North Aurora. The program included presentations by Hmong, music and display of jewelry, clothing and other artifacts. (Image credit - Al Benson)
North Aurora - Southeast Asian food, music and history were featured on Wednesday, May 22, at Messenger Public Library in North Aurora.
To a capacity crowd, the library hosted "Hmong Foodways and Culture," a program sponsored by Culinary Historians of Illinois. Program participants included the pastor and congregants of First Hmong Alliance Church in Aurora.
In 1975, Hmong immigrated from Laos to the U.S. after serving as an anti-communist ghost army in the Vietnam War. Joining many communities in the U.S. and Illinois, the Hmong adapted traditional foodways to local economies and foods.
After a welcome by G. Kevin Davis, library administrator, Lisa Capps, associate professor at St. Xavier University presented "Hmong American Foodways and Culture." As a medical anthropologist, Capps studied Hmong in northern Thailand and Kansas City.
"Church, Culture and Food" was explored by Pastor Asia Yang of First Hmong Alliance Church. He said Hmong, in China for 4,000 years, adopted Christianity because 1950s missionaries portrayed Jesus as offering atoning sacrifice.
According to Yang, the Hmong congregation moved to the former Marion Avenue Baptist Church in Aurora in 2000 after worshipping at multiple locations in Wheaton.
After his comments, Yang led a nine-voice choir from First Hmong Alliance who sang "Crown Him with Many Crowns."
The program concluded with tasting of Hmong foods led by Lia Xiong of Montgomery, an Alliance Women's Fellowship leader. The menu included chicken soup with herbs, pork and greens, laj (shredded chicken with herbs), pounded sweet rice with honey, rice and hot pepper sauce.
Culinary Historians of Northern Illinois President Gerry Rounds, of Wheaton, said the nonprofit was founded in 2016. The CHNI's mission is to understand social and cultural history through the study and celebration of food.
Rounds announced a CHNI drive for donations of community cookbooks from June to November. "The community cookbook grew out of fundraising efforts of the Civil War and has been a part of American culinary and cultural history," she said. "Your donation will help preserve this valuable genre for the future."
Rounds said donations may be left at Messenger Library in North Aurora and DuPage County Historical Museum in Wheaton. Call 630-567-0087 for more information.
Media Source and Images: Al Benson 630-859-3418 firstname.lastname@example.org