What Can Travelling Children Eat ?There was a CNN article recently, it suggested that children only eat french fries and macaroni cheese and could only be taken to institutions and countries that served the above.
Who wrote that?
Hopefully the lady wasn’t a parent, if she is, she’s doing her children a major disservice.
Feeding travelling children isn’t so hard. Sure, some kids are picky eaters, adults, too, there is such a thing as a supertaster, a person to whom some foods taste remarkably bad, but most people aren’t .
The theory goes like this, expose kids to a variety of foods when they are young and model a willingness and excitement to try new things. They quickly get used to the idea and are adventurous with their food choices as they grow up. I know it doesn’t always work, please don’t jump on me!
Weird things I’ve eaten whilst travelling include frogs, alpaca, guinea pig, buffalo, locusts, camel, emu, snails, kangaroo, 1000 year eggs and KFC. One man’s weird is another man’s normal, I highly recommend the 1000 year eggs!
Both my children are pretty good eaters, they’ve always eaten with us and have at least tasted anything new and funky looking. I haven’t adjusted my eating habits to suit them, so they’ve had all the curries and shellfish and vegetables alongside me, I do take out the chilies, but spices are fine with them.
They’re not perfect, one of them doesn’t like mushrooms or courgettes and the other one swears he hates avocado but loves guacamole and will eat just about anything else, except oysters with cocktail sauce. Don’t blame him, best way to ruin an oyster!
I have an advantage, I’m a Chef’s Widow, exposure to restaurant dining comes with the position. No, I wouldn’t pay for oysters for a 7 year old, either!
Children can of course become very unstuck in foreign countries where all the food on offer is new and different.
Some Ideas For Feeding Travelling Children
If they’re maybe getting used to a new environment, try easing them gently into the local eating scene with familiar foods.
Chips, ( I mean French Fries, not crisps, but you can get those everywhere, too) I know, it’s what they said on CNN, but if you are stuck there are always chips, everywhere in the world. You’d probably find it pretty difficult to get any sort of food poisoning from a chip.
Vegetable spring rolls often suit children, mine eat them a lot, they like the dipping sauce, too.
Sweet and sour chicken or squid is a winner for us. It’s not usually the battered stuff, lots of vegetables and fish or chicken in a mild sweet and sour sauce. We’ve found both in Thailand, Vietnam, Bali and Sri Lanka.
Satay and pad thai go down well with my children, too. Anything with peanuts! By the end of 2 weeks in Thailand they were both happy to eat the large red chilies that sometimes come in dishes, they’re not very hot at all.
Samosas, freshly cooked in front of you in an Indian market, are delicious and pretty safe. The boys are getting in plenty of samosa practice now.
Breakfast foods are a great way of feeding travelling children. They love banana pancakes, hot chocolate, eggs any way you like, and toast with jam. Accommodation that includes breakfast can save you a lot of money.
Indian breakfasts of dosas, idli, vada and sambal are my absolute favourites, the kids like idli too. The Indian Coffee House is a chain of restaurants, grandly liveried waiters in impressive turbans provide delicious breakfasts and coffee under the watchful eyes of the four pillars of Indian society, Gandhi, Nehru, Indira Gandhi and the founder of the Indian Coffee House. I was told that these four portraits hang in every branch.
Fruit and Vegetables, hit the markets and the street vendors! Maybe take a knife, spoons and a plastic plates to peel and chop fruit and veg .We just have a swiss army knife and the lid of a plastic box. Avocados, bananas and coconuts are very useful foods for filling up travelling children.
Global fast food outlets and coffee chains pop up in the most unexpected places, you can find them, if you are totally stuck. We’ve been known to hang out in them, sharing a coffee and lingering over books, just to bask in their air con. The rest rooms are usually pretty good, too.
Peanut butter is something else you can find just about anywhere. I’ve travelled around China with a large jar for emergency snacking.
Foods to avoid in Asia.
One of the best ways to get tummy trouble in Asia is to order western food, pizzas and pastas aren’t the local speciality and can be kept warm or not heated to a high enough temperature to kill any nasties. You will find them easily, we’ve eaten them and not had any trouble, but I’m always a bit wary.
Rice can be dodgy, too. I was once served a bowl of rice with a garnish of mouse poo in Ooty, India. The waiter very kindly removed it for me. If you stick to restaurants that are busy the high turn over should keep you safer with things like rice, it’s usually only a problem if it’s been hanging about. Don’t eat it if it smells weird.
In some parts of Asia it is polite to eat with your fingers, it’s probably best to get used to it and just dig in. If you hang about, the proprietors may grandly produce a fork or spoon and polish it with their fingers and a bit of spit. It happened to me ! Most children will take to finger eating like ducks to a very familiar stretch of water.
If the children aren’t into chopsticks you can usually get a spoon.
It’s a good idea to travel with drinking straws, I really wouldn’t drink out of bottles or cans, you don’t know what’s been climbing all over them.
Feeding Travelling Children As Education
Just think how much the children will learn from exposure to the different foods of the world, it reflects culture and religion, climate and distribution. They will experience the staples of different regions and see why they are so. They will compare farming, shopping, marketing and availability of foods from many regions.
Local cookery courses for families are a brilliant idea, I’ve never eaten so well as on a 3 day cookery course in Thailand.
So, even if there is no mac n cheese and your child just doesn’t dig the local cuisine there will always be french fries , fresh fruit, eggs and pancakes, feeding travelling children isn’t so hard, the kids are unlikely to starve. Maybe they will enjoy the culinary adventure as much as you will. I wonder if I can tempt them with deep fried spider?