Have you started a “culinary passport” for your children yet? Designing a small notebook would be a great summer project to keep your kids busy and food interested. If you want to go above and beyond “visiting” different cultural cuisines, you might even think about a series of goals your children can earn while collecting “stamps” in their notebooks. For instance, maybe after five countries, they could earn a trip to a local dairy farm to see how milk products are produced. Or, possibly, after ten meals, you could set up a factory tour so they can see how their favorite foods are made.
Trying foods, from around the world, shouldn’t be a stressful or difficult process. Remember, the goal is to expand the tasting horizons of your children; to open their minds to new flavors and cultures. If you fear cooking worldly dishes, remember, restaurant dining counts! Instead of Friday night pizza, maybe order take out from the Chinese joint around the corner…or stop at that Mediterranean restaurant that you’ve driven by a million times but never gave it a chance. Now, I’m not sure I would consider a packet of Ramen noodles to count as an oriental meal…but get creative! If you don’t want to make homemade noodles, or can’t find udon or rice noodles, use the Ramen noodles (not the seasoning) as a base and simply create a brand new topping.
Let me help you out. I recently came across a recipe for slow cooker Thai Chicken, which is great for busy parents who don’t have time to create something new, from scratch, between work and that night’s baseball game. With a few simple ingredients, you can create a tasty dish for dinner and your children can get a Thailand “stamp” in their passport books. I made this Thai Chicken last week while my son had a friend over. Both of them (11 and 12 years old) cleaned their plates and his friend even had fun with the chopsticks I laid out (which we hoard from the local Chinese restaurant.)
*For those of you who are thinking, “I don’t like curry,” please note that the word “curry” is a generic term primarily employed in Western culture to denote a wide variety of dishes originating in Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, Thai or other Southeast Asian cuisines. Their common feature is the incorporation of more or less complex combinations of spices / herbs, usually (but not invariably) including fresh or dried hot chiles. The yellow curry powder, in which we are familiar, is a mix of particular spices to give us that certain flavor we associate with Indian cuisine. Red curry paste tastes nothing like yellow curry powder. Go on, give it a try! See you in Thailand!