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How to Prepare Kids to Eat Foreign Foods Before a Trip

by Barbara Rogers

Jun 12, 2024

© Oksun70 | Dreamstime.com

Travel Tips

While adults may consider new foods among the greatest joys of visiting new places, unfamiliar food may be the biggest hurdle for parents traveling with young children. Most kids are instinctively resistant to new flavors and to foods that look strange to them. A little advance planning can help ease kids into new cuisines and flavors.


Dine Out
Is there a local restaurant serving dishes typical of the country you will be visiting? Try a pre-trip dinner or lunch there, first checking the menu for good “entry level” traditional dishes, perhaps those similar to familiar foods. In a Greek restaurant, for example, you may find kotopita, similar to chicken pot pie, but with a thinner, crispy crust.


Cook at Home
If you enjoy cooking, look for recipes typical of your destination and add them to your own meals. Again, begin with dishes using familiar ingredients, but add new flavors. If you’re traveling to Asia, for example, try stir fries of familiar ingredients seasoned with soy sauce and ginger. Try adding new flavors to old favorites.


Begin with the Familiar
Some basic cooking methods are common to many different cuisines. For example, veal or chicken Milanese (Italy), Wiener Schnitzel (Austria and Germany) and tonkatsu (Japan) are all simply breaded fried meats. Various kinds of kebabs are common street foods almost anywhere. Learn about these and look for them on menus as you travel.


Find the Local Pasta
Most cuisines feature some variation of noodles; identify these ahead of your trip so you’ll recognize the local ones on menus. In Germany and Austria look for spaetzle, find udon and ramen in Japan, spaetzle or schupfnudeln in Germany, csipetke in Hungary, and fideo in Spain or Spanish Latin America. You’ll also find various dumplings common to many cultures.


Know What to Avoid
If your kids have some real aversion (one of mine couldn’t swallow mushrooms, another was averse to eggplant), learn the word for it so you can spot it on a menu or ask waitstaff if it’s included. In short, treat it as you would an allergy so you can avoid it. This is one occasion when it’s okay to pamper a few food prejudices.


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