Cultures, Shaken Together

Dear Diary:

Living in New York, we know a visit to Central Park and Chinatown offers two distinct experiences. The former is famous for being an urban oasis, while Chinatown is known for its vibrant ethnic markets and restaurants.

Recently, trying to take in the beautiful fall weather, my husband and I went to Sheep Meadow in Central Park. Suddenly there was a commotion. We saw two Chinese women holding out a bedsheet under a tall ginkgo tree, while a third woman jumped and beat the branches with a long pole.

It took us a while to figure out that the women were trying to loosen the ripe nuts from the tree. Ginkgo nuts are prized for their health benefits and often used in Chinese cuisine. Judging by the large shopping bags the women carried, we were amazed at their entrepreneurial spirit. No doubt the nuts would be shelled and packaged, then sold to restaurants and on the streets of Chinatown.

“Who would think,” my husband reflected, “that it’s ginkgo nuts that would bring our two worlds together?”

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