Once upon a time, immigrants from South America, Africa and the Far East had to go out of their way to find specialist shops that catered to their countries’ different cuisines. To meet their needs, the French supermarket chain Carrefour began to sell so-called “ethnic products” in May 2004. A spokesman said they were considered exotic then, but are standard fare even for Spaniards today. A spokesman for Madrid’s biggest market, Mercamadrid, said it sold nearly 880,000 tons of yucca last year, almost three times as much as in 2003. One Romanian client said she couldn’t find familiar infgredianets when she came here eight years ago. “But things have changed since we joined the EU last year,” she said. “I can even find pre-cooked Romanian dishes now.” Nutritionists say the phenomenon is nothing new but has been going on for centuries, especially since Spain discovered the Americas in 1492. Before that, potatoes and tomatoes, to mention just two common staples, were unknown in Europe. Meanwhile, the Spanish are taking to Chinese and Moroccan dishes in ever-increasing numbers. Vive la différence, as the French are wont to say.


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