One of the things I like about New York City is that even though the Big Apple has all its various ethnic neighbourhoods, you typically don't have to travel too far uptown, downtown or crosstown to get decent non-American fare. Chinese, Indian, Ethiopian, Thai, Japanese, Pakistani, Mediterranean, Argentinian, whatever -- chances are, whether you're walking down Avenue A or 26th Street, you could pick any of those cuisines and end up in a pretty good place.
But, I think the most intimate study of the country's now-cliched melting pot is standing by baggage carousel 18 at 11.30 on a Monday morning, right after the arrival of two flights -- UA 896 from Singapore (via Hong Kong) and AA 10 from Tokyo.
As the conveyor belt reels into life (crunk crunk), the suitcases and backpacks and duffel bags and crates and boxes and odd-shaped items ski into being from that square hole in the middle of the baggage carousel. Not all of them have arrived at their final destination. There are people travelling on to Orlando and Detroit, but also places that don't contribute as much to the cosmopolitan make-up of the country: Memphis, Grand Rapids, Mich., Some Small Town, N.C., Bloomington, Ill., Nowhere, Ark. So, it's no wonder they're filled with beauty products from Vietnam, mango ice-cream from the Philippines, DVDs from Hong Kong and fake Louis Vuitton purses from Thailand.
Of course, I'll never know for sure, not having X-ray vision. I'm just guessing, because that's what I'd bring if I came from any of those countries. I'll tell you what came from Singapore -- in my Samsonite and duffel bag, I had Chinese New Year snacks, a new pair of adidas running shoes, gifts for Jack and Jessie from my mum and some dirty laundry.