Despite not lighting off a single firecracker, smoke bomb, ground bloom flower, artillery shell, or even the lamest firework ever invented, the snake, I still had an outstanding Independence Day yesterday. In the morning I went to the local Hmong Festival with my friend Ben and his girlfriend. Despite living two blocks from the park where they hold the festival every year, I had never actually attended it. So I figured that since we're heading to Oklahoma soon I might as well go. Ben has worked with the Hmong people for years, so he and his girlfriend were able to explain all kinds of cultural things to me as we walked among the hundreds of booths displaying and selling all manner of items. Not entirely unlike an American state fair, the booths contained clothes, DVDs, candy, music, treats, trinkets, live performers, and some with nothing more than an assortment of herbs, roots, and unmarked pills. The sounds were loud, the people chatty as all get out, and the prices fairly reasonable.
And then came the food.
Nearly four blocks of wall-to-wall food tents were hawking sausages, chicken, fish, rice, papaya, mango, egg rolls, spring rolls, drinks in strange small cans, and lots of other culinary curiosities that I had never seen before. The three of us shared some lunch while watching a soccer game, and before I left we picked up three cups of what's called "Nava," which is basically colored tapioca pudding mixed with coconut milk, syrup, and bits of water chestnuts. The tapioca looks like grubworms, instead of tiny little balls like I'm used to, and the whole thing is slurped through a pretty big straw. That was probably my favorite part of the whole festival, other than seeing some insane athletes compete at Takraw. :)
In the afternoon my wife and I headed up I-94 to Saint Cloud for some good old-fashioned family time with the relatives. We spent the afternoon and evening at my uncle Paul's house with lots of my extended family, and even though we didn't really do anything super crazy or exciting, it was a lot of fun (maybe I'm getting old, but I really enjoy sitting around and just talking sometimes). My cousins and I found a geocache and traded a superball for a small action figure, and there was also some card and croquet games too.
So yeah. Happy Independence Day everyone. :)