Kids are picky eaters; even the most voracious tend to have their limits. I know very few kids who will try absolutely anything put in front of them. Quite the opposite, the majority turn up their noses, cross their arms, wrinkle their faces in disgust and say something along the lines of, “I don’t like it” (even though they’ve never tried it), “Ewwww,” or “I’m not eating that.” Mine is no exception.
But, I’ve found that my daughter and her friends are more likely to try different dishes when they are away from home. So, if you want to get your kids to try new foods, take them on a trip!
Visiting new places often brings out in kids curiosity and an openness to new experiences. That curiosity and openness transcends all senses, including taste and smell, and often results in a willingness to try something new, including food.
This past spring we went on a road trip through parts of Portugal and Spain. Galicia, Spain’s northwest territory, is seafood heaven – with fresh catches and innumerable types of shellfish.
While in Galicia we were introduced to the delicacy of percebes. A type of barnacle, they are quite possibly the ugliest thing I have ever eaten (and I’ve eaten raw chicken with Japanese mountain potato and sautéed crickets, to name a few).
Amazingly, our daughter was game to try a percebe, and then she had another, and then another. She was hooked! I’m sure the bravery she summoned to try these ugly little things was a result of being in exploration mode away from home.
Her curiosity was in full drive as we explored cities and towns, oceans and inlets, mountains and valleys. She was receiving loads of new information through sight, sound, feel, smell and, of course, taste.
You don’t have to travel far, however, to summon that same curiosity. Your kids are just as likely to be open to new experiences by visiting cultural neighborhoods in a nearby city.
While exploring Chinatown, Little Italy, or the Latino neighborhood, you can grab a bite to eat and introduce a new food. In Madrid, there is a market we love that has several different types of food vendors. One of our favorites is the Japanese stall.
We had been there a few times and each time our daughter would try something new: edamame, the nori wrapped around the rolls, fish cakes in the udon soup. Last time, she asked to try the salmon roe nigiri. She ended up eating the whole thing and asked for another.
It’s exciting and fun to see your kids trying new foods, expanding their palettes, opening up to new experiences. But be careful what you wish for.
Back in Madrid, we saw percebes for sale at the local fish shop. My daughter was thrilled and implored me to buy them. At 100 eur per kilo, we passed. But, she did have salmon for dinner. At least she didn’t ask for pasta again…