I came across one of my cherished Indian fruits today in the market with Julio. It is called chico here (and chikku in India). I had always assumed this was native to India, but Julio told me it was from here. Sure enough, looking this up on the web proved that this fruit is originally a new world product, and specifically from this part of the new world. We then went about discussing other fruits, with Julio claiming that the mango was also from here, which I found difficult to believe based on the variety in Asia. Again, thanks to the oracle that is the internet, I was able to verify that in this case, the mango is originally from Asia (and India is the world’s largest producer). I find it fascinating how much the food (and other) cultures of the world were changed by the discovery of the New World. With all of their dishes that are tomato based, many are fooled into believing that this fruit was native to Italy. Nope, it is from the New World. Likewise the humble potato, which so many associate with Ireland (and the potato famine of the 1840’s), actually came from this side of the Atlantic. Entire culinary worlds were changed by these exchanges. Cultural identities were changed, the foreign appropriated as the self. So much of the world has benefited from this celebration and integration of the new and the different. What a shame that our darker natures fear and reject the other, the new, the different instead of working to integrate and understand. How much richer the world could be with heart, minds (and let’s face it mouths) open to the experience of the other.