I grew up and still live in a region that has the guts to list mac-and-cheese as a vegetable on menus, with a straight face. As a kid, the only "ethnic" food were some meat-and-three joints in parts of town where whites didn't go and a couple of places that had spaghetti. (Any Nashvillians remember Marchetti's?) Seafood was catfish, and that ~ and everything else ~ was fried. Salad, if offered at all, was an uninspired little bowl of iceberg lettuce and a few carrot shavings. Or something congealed; don't get me started.
In school, from elementary through high school, each grade had maybe three or four black kids, one guy from India, and the random Asian kid who stayed until his parents pulled him out for private school. The advent of busing changed some of that, but mostly it added a few dozen Jewish kids from an area near the synagogues in town. My best friend was Italian, which improved my dining prospects a great deal. But mostly, my hometown was exceedingly white and Christian. You would have also assumed it was straight, but the AIDS disaster proved that to be inaccurate.
Now, of course, you can get some really interesting salads in my hometown, both human and culinary. People of different racial make-ups can marry, and so can gays. People from every country on earth moved over and folks tired of being cold moved south. People tired of over-paying for houses moved from California. Nashville now has the largest population of native Kurds outside of Kurdistan. And, entire streets in town have more signs in Spanish than in English. Fewer new acquaintances ask you first thing which church you attend. There are mosques and temples and atheists, believers and hypocrites.
In high school civics class, America was described as a melting pot but, looking around the room, the stew was light pink. And it wasn't only our palates that were suffering from a lack of variety; we were stuck in the mindset of white bread with baloney and mayonnaise. We didn't know there were any other points of view, any other ways to live, or what sort of reality we might create for ourselves. It was unappetizing.
A melting pot fetches up imagery of everyone being blended into a smooth, consistent puree of humanity. Who wants that? Not me, and not the ethnic purists. If you are suspicious of people from other places, people who practice a religion different from yours, or people with a different level of income or education, ask yourself why. Search your soul and discover what you might be missing. Why not appreciate all the unique, multi-colored, delicious pieces of our world, right here and right now?
Enjoy your salad.