The Mouas

And now, in response to popular demand, if one correspondent’s mere admission of unfamiliarity with a tale be construed as popular demand, The Tale of the Mouas.

Over the past year I have found myself buying more and more stuff from the Mouas at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, as their quality is just outstanding. They’re a little standoffish, even faced with (or perhaps especially faced with) a shopper who chats up his vendors. As a socially-challenged buddy remarked after I’d taken him to the FPFM, “You don’t give anybody a chance to give you attitude. You just swarm all over ’em.”

But the Mouas yielded to the swarming during the boiled peanut season, and they’ve become much more outgoing. And since we’re practically friends now, it occurred to me to wonder about their ethnicity. I mean, to me, “Moua” does not ring an ethnic bell like, say, “Cohen”, “Schickelgruber,” or “Cabeza de Vaca.” Theylook sort of generic Pacific area dweller, but not Hawaiian, not “round” enough to be Samoan, and certainly not Chinese or Japanese or Korean or Thai or Vietnamese…just tantalizingly unidentifiable Asian.

So I plugged “Moua” into Google (an Internet search engine). Of the eighty gazillion hits, a few seemed to be out there somewhere in the middle of the Pacific, but overwhelmingly the hits were on Vietnamese text, which I can’t read even though I can recognize it. But, see, these folks don’t look Vietnamese.

So I swallowed my pride last Saturday and asked one of them. He said they were Vietnamese. I told him about doing the search and getting all the Vietnamese hits but being confused because they didn’t look Vietnamese to me. He allowed himself a small smile, and said, “Actually, we’re Hmong.” I think I deserve a discount for being able to tell the difference, but I’m terribly embarrassed for not thinking of the Hmong as I certainly knew but had temporarily forgot that large numbers of them immigrated here after The War and that they tended to go into farming.

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