Monday, October 05, 2009

Do Your Kids Eat Sushi?

I don't mean to brag but my five-year old can eat with chopsticks. And his favorite restaurant is called "Silken Tofu." It's a Korean restaurant that we often frequent, despite and because we are usually the only non-Asians in the joint. It feels very authentic, unlike the more showy Korean BBQ restaurants we used to frequent on 34th street in Manhattan.

Also, my eight year-old recently brought home his "Getting to Know Me" project where he had to write down his hobbies, favorite foods, etc. And do you know what he claimed his favorite food is? Sushi. I chuckled at that because we honestly don't take our children out for sushi that often, now that we live in Philly, but he's so much like me in his love for "exotic" foodstuffs. Among his other culinary favorites are snails, goat cheese, giant prawns, and tandori chicken. The five-year old turns his nose up at most cheeses, but loves green olives, Chinese bubble tea, vietnamese pho and bun (rice noodles), and jamon serrano. And even though neither one of them will get near a peanut butter sandwich and consider most breakfast cereals unacceptable for morning consumption, they also eat regular foods as well.

But the thing is, I can pretty much feel okay taking my sons to any restaurant in the world and know that they'll find something they like to eat. No matter how "strange" or different the food may be. In fact, they both seem to relish the idea of eating things that others might find unappetizing. I'd like to take some credit for that, but for the most part all I've done is feed my kids the same thing I eat since they were little babies. I never make separate meals for them because mommy and daddy's food is too complicated or spicy. To be honest, my eight-year old can handle far spicier food than I.

Still, many parents moan and groan because their kids won't eat anything besides a very regimented diet of chicken fingers and tater tots. The only vegetables that are acceptable are green beans and veggie booty. And of course I know that some kids just come out of the womb with very particular palates and would rather starve than eat something with cumin or cloves, but for the most part, it is the parent who shapes their kids eating habits. And for me, eating provides a window into other cultures. So when I take my kids into that Korean restaurant they learn something about Korean culture, even though they may not even realize it now.

Here's an article from Time Out Chicago about a great way to tantalize your kid's taste buds with kid-friendly foreign fare. It's about Chicago, but the idea can be applied in any city. What about you? How do you get your kids to challenge their taste buds? Does food cause fights and meltdowns in your house? Is your kid a food snob? Let us know.

Here's to happy eating!



kate said...

Um, yes, food causes trouble in our home-- sometimes. The boys actually do eat a pretty good variety of veggies, legumes, meats, etc. so I can't complain, but sometimes it's a struggle. Anyway, I recently finished a memoir/cookbook by a former chef mom of four, which discusses, among other things, the very issue of kids eating off the kids menu vs, adult foods. It's pretty neat-- you might want to check it out: Too Many Cooks, by Emily Franklin.

Olivia said...

It seems an appropriate time to advertise the new blog that one of my close friends just started after being dismayed by what she saw being served... Her idea is to give easy, quick (and affordable to boot) meal tips for you and your family and follows Lori's idea that you should just feed your children the same thing you eat. I'm happy my son eats lentils and shrimp, but it's definitely because we eat them as well and just serve them to him.

So enjoy:


LT said...

I do think if your kids eat a nice variety of food we can't complain too much because baby taste buds do need time for seasoning. I think the key is that they keep an open mind to try new things.

Thanks for the advert. I'll def. check out your friend's site.

Anonymous said...

My kids live and breath a strict diet of noodles and bread. Not seriously, but they do prefer certain items over others. My kiddos have the bad habit of smelling everything. We do have one rule; You must taste everything. If you don't like it, you don't have to eat anymore.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Can someone explain to me why only in America do you find a "kids" menu? And usually it's filled with junk food (chicken nuggets etc.)

In Italy, France, the Caribbean, etc. kids will eat a less spicy version of whatever the adults are eating.

Alisa said...

I finally got a chance to revisit your blog. I love it. Your kids sound like mine. Since they were babies they have always eaten pretty much everything.

When we were living in India, they were willing to try more exotic foods than I was. I've tried to raise them not to have food discriminations like I do. Even if it's a food I don't like, I never show it because I want them to try it at least once. So far this technique works.

Since they were tall enough to stand on a stool and see over the counter, I've also included them in cooking with me. My grandmother did this with me and it's how I learned how to cook. I want them to see the ingredients and watch and learn the techniques. It's also a great time for us to chit chat.