Among the many things I learned during the Great Blizzard of 2018 — that snowblowers have carburetors, that carburetors fail, that robins don’t eat bird seed, that if you position an electric blanket just right it will form a cocoon from which you’ll never want to leave, that John Mulaney is so funny he elevates the comedy of everyone else on stage, that you can group video chat all of your kids at once through Facebook messenger (an exhilarating experience that will leave you all pumped up and just a little sad for the old days), that a hot, hot shower is the best cure for snowblown muscles, that Rumchata cocoa is worth every decadent sip — was this little happy tidbit:
You can now buy Hmong egg rolls, made right here in Appleton, in your local grocery store freezer section.
Hmong egg rolls taste like summer and celebrations to me. They show up and make everything just a little more festive.
Look for the longest line at any Wisconsin Farmer’s Market and that’s where you’ll find Hmong Egg Rolls. We once ordered 100 of them for a party we hosted, and had to run out for a few more.
Saturday afternoon, just as Snowstorm Evelyn was starting to rile up, we popped into a nearly empty Festival Foods. Having come directly from the YMCA, we were looking especially fine — sweaty, starving, and generally unkempt.
We planned to move quickly, swipe a few items into the cart, slip through the self-checkout lanes and head for home.
Then I smelled egg rolls.
Like a cartoon character, I followed the scent through the cereal aisle, past meats, and just north of dairy.
Zoa Thao Lo greeted me with a smile and a choice of egg roll, pork and chicken.
Yes! I said, and popped one in my mouth.
So, so good. I felt like a proud family member when he showed me their egg rolls in the freezer section. Their business is located on Wisconsin Avenue. We’re practically neighbors!
I congratulated them, though, turns out they’ve been distributing to stores like Pick ‘N Save, Woodman’s, and Festival Foods for several years. They were pretty gracious about my over-the-top enthusiasm and smiled indulgently as I asked if I could take their picture.
I grabbed a box to go and we ate them that afternoon — just thawed them and baked them in the oven. They crunched and flaked just as freshly as the ones we buy from stands in more forgiving seasons.
God willing, the outdoor Farmer’s Market season will be here soon and, with it, more opportunities for fresh Hmong egg rolls.
Until then, though, I’m going to enjoy supporting a local business and eating some of my favorite summer nibblies.
If you haven’t had a genuine Hmong egg roll, I suggest you head on over to your nearest grocery story and pick up a box or two.
They’re really Yumhmie. I promise.