Listen to the story:
Mani’s family lived in a village near Senji in Villupuram district. Mani liked only a few vegetables. Potatoes and ladies finger were the two that he liked very much. One day, when amma served potato curry...
Mani: I don’t want to eat potatoes today, because they are foreign vegetables.
Selvi: No, they are not, Amma bought them from the vegetable shop near the bus stop!
Mani: Appa, Selvi is too small to understand that potatoes are not from India.
Appa: So what?
Mani: Our teacher told us that we should buy and eat locally grown food.
Selvi: What else did your teacher tell you?
Mani: She also told us to use things made in our country.
Amma: Then you cannot eat popcorn the next time we go to watch a movie.
Appa: And you cannot order tomato soup either, or even pineapple juice.
Selvi: Mani, then you can’t order anything.
Mani: Why? Why can’t I eat popcorn or soup or... or anything that I want to?
Amma: Don’t you know that corn, tomatoes and even ladies finger all came from other countries.
Selvi: Really? How did they come to our country Amma? Did they get on an aeroplane and come here?
Appa: No, no, Some merchants brought them here long ago by sea.
Mani: Why did they bring vegetables to India?
Amma and appa laughed.
Selvi: They could have brought some sweets. Why didn’t they?
Amma: People came to India in search of spices especially black pepper. A man from Portugal named Vasco da Gama sailed to Kerala.
Amma: Imagine the joy of the sailors when they reached Kozhikode and found black pepper! They took a lot of pepper back to their country.
Selvi: They took spices from India.
Mani: Yes, but who brought the vegetables into India?
Appa: The Portuguese brought them to India. Potato was one of those vegetables.
Mani and Selvi looked at the potato curry on their plates. And quickly began to eat it.
Mani: Wow! This potato has travelled so far!
Amma: Careful, Selvi, don’t upset our foreign visitor!
Selvi pulled a long green chilli out of the curry.
Selvi: Who? Who is our foreign visitor ? Amma, you are making fun of me!
Mani: No, Amma is not making fun, she is talking about the foreign fruit chilli!
Appa: Chillies were very popular in South America but no one else in the world knew of this spicy fruit. One day a sailor named Christopher Columbus sailed to South America.
Amma: This sailor was actually looking for India. He wanted to buy black pepper. Instead, he found South America and the chilli!
Selvi: How sad for Columbus.
Amma: It was a little sad, but, because he went to South America, he found the chilli. It was as spicy as the black pepper. And so, Christopher Columbus packed the chilli and took it back to his country with him!
Mani: But how did it come here?
Appa: Chilli was one of the things that the Portuguese brought to India.
Amma: In India chilli was first brought into Goa and the people there learnt to use this new spice in their cooking. Before the entry of chillies pepper was used in cooking.
Selvi and Mani looked at the chilli on their plate.
Selvi: What a long distance you have travelled?
Mani: And how you make our food delicious!
They shouted and quickly took a bite of the chilli!
Selvi: To waste you would be very bad and so we are going to eat you!
Mani: Ah! it’s hot and spicy!
State Council of Educational Research and Training (2019). Term-1 English Standard-6. A Visitor from Distant Lands (pp. 131-144). Published by the Tamil Nadu Textbook and Educational Services Corporation.