Top Exotic Foods for Kids to Try
Besides takeout Chinese, my food fare was decidedly American growing up. The closest I had gotten to exotic food before being a teenager was at an international food fair in my elementary school, which struck me with half fear and wonder. Kids desperately cling onto the food that is familiar and recognizable, making trying new food, especially ethnic food with different flavors and ingredients, difficult. When October half term holidays arrive Ease your children into these new cuisines and they’ll soon be a worldly eater.
Don’t jump into sashimi or complicated rolls. I started with California rolls, which with imitation crab, avocado, and cucumber is fish-free. Vegetarian rolls also suffice. At my favorite sushi restaurant, they offer a peanut butter and jelly “sushi” roll to introduce children to the concept. The next step is cooked fish. Shrimp is great because it’s familiar. Eel is a good choice because it comes with an appealing savory sauce. If the child is old enough for raw fish, milder fare such as scallop, red snapper, squid, and halibut are good for beginners.
With complex spices and smells, Indian food can be intimidating for adults too! A good way to begin is by going to a lunch buffet at an Indian restaurant. That way kids can try a little of everything, then determine what they enjoy. Alternatively, pick a few dishes and share them, family style. Tandoori chicken, which is marinated in yogurt and spices, is a popular dish. Order some samosas—mashed potatoes, onions and peas wrapped in dough. For a step into the curry world, try a mild butter chicken, with fresh naan (Indian flatbread) on the side to sop up the delicious sauce.
Hummus is a dip made from mashed chickpeas, olive oil, and a number of spices. It’s often accompanied by pita bread. Children tend to enjoy the mild taste and dipping aspect. Strapatsada has ingredients that are familiar, including scrambled eggs and tomatoes, while also providing new flavors such as basil. Spanakopita reminds kids of a calzone, as it’s a phyllo pastry filled with spinach and feta cheese. Greek desserts, such as baklava, are sure to win them over.
Take a Little Bit of Everything
Another idea is to create new holiday traditions by researching and preparing dishes from several cultures. During Christmas, your children will be thrilled with a French Bûche de Noël, a spongecake layered with chocolate buttercream. For Easter family holidays, try a traditionally British simnel cake (a rich fruitcake) or baked kulich (bread decorated with icing) from Russia. Anything sweet is always a good way to begin integrating new cuisine.