12th December, 2004 The label of the packet said Tropical Mix, but the main ingredient was...walnuts? View large

Dear Sir,

My dear father comes from Rockhampton, north of the border, and firmly in terra troppo. We, the family Newbery, have holidayed in the turquoise waters of Queensland on a couple of occasions and I have eaten a pineapple with chopsticks.

Consequently I consider myself to be well positioned to comment of things of a tropical nature.

Conversely, Mrs Newbery comes from Scotland, the extended Newbery line comes from Ireland, the cat comes from Camberwell, and I am noted far and wide for my cool and temperate nature. So things sub-tropical are not unfamiliar to me. Sub-arctic too, if you include an unfortunate period in Dundee in winter.

I am also well familiar with the common walnut, long grown in Britain as a wood for furniture, gun-stocks, thinly sliced on dashboards of Rolls Royces, beautifully presented, pickled but largely inedible, in jars, and piece-de-resistance, the nuts reach heavenly status eaten with stilton and port in the peace of the evening.

Like myself, they are very much a temperate nut. Or so I thought.

That brings us to your Value Pack Tropical Mix, containing 'Walnuts, mango, pawpaw, coconut...' and other sundry bits.

Walnuts? Tropical?

So, tell me, when did Hampshire move into the hibiscus and coral lagoon circuit?

Yours nutty but not troppo,

J Cosmo Newbery.

A light-hearted reply from L. Scalzo: "Thank you for your enjoyable letter, accurately pointing out that walnuts do not grow in tropical climes.

Human nature being as delightfully whimsical as it is, when it comes to taste buds, it is unwilling to bow to the dictates of geography, climate or agricultural zones..."

The letter went on to say taste panels preferred the walnut over pecans and macadamias and that most of the mix was tropical fruit so 'Tropical Mix' was still acceptable.