Tonight, I'm cooking curry — and it looks like I'm not the only one. Sales of ethnic foods have hit an unprecedented high of $2.1 billion this year. According to market research firm Mintel, this segment has increased by more than 17 percent in the last five years.

Mintel conducted a survey in which "ethnic food" encompassed Asian and Mexican products, as well as other ingredients such as chutneys and noodles. Mexican food comprises the largest percentage of purchases at 62 percent, but Indian and Asian foods have each grown 11 percent between 2006 and 2008. The cause? More than a million immigrants have become permanent legal US residents since 2005, "piquing Americans' interest in new cuisines," according to a Mintel analyst.

Perhaps the staggering sales numbers and statistics will prove to be an auspicious sign; incidentally, today happens to also be World Food Day. Have Americans' palates become more open to the culinary ways of the world? How often do you cook ethnic food at home?

Source: Flickr User avlxyz