Whether you are traveling to parts unknown or considering relocating, you’ll find that kids around the world have a lot in common when it comes to food preferences.
Young eaters are suspicious. They like foods that are simple, with each of the elements recognizable and separable. They love food that is fun and easy, or food that they can grab and eat with their hands as well as food that is not too complex in flavor or spice.
In the States, kids go crazy for mac and cheese, chicken nuggets, cheese pizza, and, of course, Brussels sprouts… just kidding about that last one. Many generations have learned that getting children in America to finish their vegetables isn’t nearly as easy as getting them to finish their bowl of mac and cheese. And in the same way that children across the U.S. have a particular partiality to certain foods, so do children in other countries around the world.
Go south of the border to Mexico and you’ll find that kids are hungry for tamales. Make your way over to England and see how the kids there are all about fish sticks. In France, kids enjoy crêpes or simple omelets. In Thailand, they grow up on noodle dishes.
Childhoods around the world are different, from the books kids grow up reading to the lunches they eat at school each day to the cookies and sweet treats they love eating come snack time. Want to help widen your child’s palate and introduce them to new foods? You may be inspired by what parents around the world do to get the kids to eat healthy.
Curaçao: Keshi Yená
The Dutch Caribbean island blends flavors from 55 different ethnicities, so the kids have a really unique choice of foods incorporating Indonesian, Dutch, and Venezuelan traditions. Keshi yená, or stuffed cheese, is a definite favorite. The dish originated during the island’s slave era when kitchen workers would stuff hollowed cheese rinds with bits of discarded meat scraps, and steam it to turn the rind soft again. It’s now a household favorite, and of course it is; what kid wouldn’t love stuffed cheese?
Costa Rica: Gallo Pinto
Chris Hoyt, Co-Founder of LanguaTravel, organizes Costa Rican kids’ camps and language immersion programs for hundreds of families each year, so coming up with healthy, kid-friendly cuisine is something they think about quite often. “We've found that the most popular food with local kids as well as travelers is the Costa Rican staple gallo pinto (guy-oh peentoh). It's pretty simple to make, and you can find it in virtually any restaurant in Costa Rica. We serve it in all of our camps, as it's generally allergy-friendly and not too challenging to the young palate.” Gallo pinto consists of black beans and rice, cooked together in oil, and can be eaten at breakfast, lunch or dinner. It is commonly served with an egg, or as part of a casado (a traditional Costa Rican platter) with chicken and fried plantains.
Aly Walansky is a special contributor to The Daily Meal.