On Sunday June 26 the Vietnamese Cultural Garden Committee hosted a community event for everyone entitled "BRUNCH A LA VIET NAM" at the Sai Gon Plaza in Cleveland's Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood.
Gia Hoa Ryan, Director of the Friendship Foundation which sponsored the event stated, "Our goal was to educate our entire community about the beautiful Vietnamese garden we are establishing on Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard. We will join the other gardens that foster appreciation of the many ethnic groups making up our Cleveland. Our garden will proudly display our national flag of the gold field with three broad red stripes symbolizing the North, the Center, and South of our motherland. Our garden will tell the story of the beginning of the Vietnamese people in the marriage of the Mountain Dragon King with the Fairy Princess of the Sea."
The event attracted some two hundred people, representing Cleveland's diversity. Attending for Global Cleveland was its dynamic Director Joseph Cimperman and his family. "We have been sending this out on our social media since we received the event info," he wrote. "We are very supportive of this effort."
Joe Meissner and Margaret Wong
Two of the very best of Cleveland's legal community participated. Attorney Margaret Wong has helped thousands of families in their immigration battles. "Our view is very simple," Attorney Wong told people at this cultural garden event, "We believe that every case can be won. That is why we provide the very best lawyering for all our clients." Among her many achievements, Margaret is known for her very successful representation for various cases involving President Obama's relations.
A second attorney attending was former Federal District Attorney Patrick McLaughlin who brought his family. He is no stranger to the Asian and Vietnamese communities, having served with the Big Red One in Viet Nam and lectured there on law subjects: "Great food and cause," he stated. "My family and I enjoyed the Vietnamese food, a first for our grandchildren."
Mari Galindo, leader of Cleveland's Mexican Community aided this event and invited members of her extensive family. "This was my first time eating Vietnamese food," said one family youth, "And it was delicious."
Mari Galiondo and Johnny Wu
The Vietnamese cuisine included Ban Xeo which means the "Happy Pancake." This is made with a Vietnamese Crepe of special batter, lightly browned over live fire, as all sorts of items are added on top which can include shrimp, pork, and chicken, and with a special crepe of vegetables for the vegans among us. A second item was the scrumptious rice noodles mixed with grilled pork slices and tasty Nuoc Mam sauce. A third item was the luscious Banh Mi Vietnamese sandwiches of browned crusty French rolls enclosing meats and succulent vegetables which have been around much longer than Subway's offerings.
Preparing all these foods fresh as they were ordered by those present were Chefs Truoc Phung Nguyen, Hanh Luong, Tam Luong, Tuyet, and Phuong Lam. A fourth item was flavorful bowls of fresh fruits of all kinds.
The drinks of choice were large glasses of fresh iced Vietnamese Coffee. Most people know that the Number One country in the world for producing coffee is Brazil. But hardly anyone knows that Number Two is Viet Nam. The coffee has a hearty taste, smooth, full of flavor, and a heavenly aroma. When combined with sweet condensed milk, this drink enriches any morning.
"This event," stated Treasurer Uyen Da, "was a fund raiser. We thank all who came and donated. We especially thank Vinh who oversaw the cash collections to support the construction." Present at the event was Architect Robert Maschke (along with his wife and daughter) who is overseeing the Vietnamese Garden design. "We are incorporating ideas from everywhere and we welcome more ideas from the Vietnamese community and general community."
"This event was a great success for our Committee and Community," stated Oanh Powell, the Committee's Vice-president. "In particular I oversaw our colorful, artistic street-posters and decorations. I was pleasantly surprised that many cars stopped when they saw these and joined the festivities to enjoy our foods."
Margaret Wong, Gia Hoa Ryan and friends
Different groups showed up. "Many of our members were present and enjoyed it," said Ken Kovach President of ICC-WIN. Other present included Pierre Bejjani, Middle Eastern Community leader; Council Person Brian Cummings and his wife; Stephanie Shelden from Cleveland FLEA: Vietnam Veteran leader Sean Ennis; Deborah Hanson from Clevelandpeople.com; and many members from the Asian and Vietnamese communities.
"We were so proud that so many came and from numerous diverse groups," summed-up Director Ryan. "We met so many new supporters such as Military Veteran Ed Molnar and his wonderful wife. With supporters like these, we know we will succeed."
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