International Food

By Laragh Kedwell on November 03, 2010
It’s never too early to introduce your kids to international foods. Whet their appetites for culinary adventures.

International foodThere’s a misconception that young kids don’t like strongly flavoured foods, but as long as a dish is not too spicy, there’s a whole world of cuisine waiting to be experienced. Another myth is that children and restaurants don’t mix, but throw in the fun of chopsticks, or everyone (including the grown-ups) eating with their hands, and a trip to an ethnic restaurant can be a great adventure. We really enjoy eating out with our three-year-old, Lorne, and at $30 including tip for the three of us, these options don’t break the bank.

Vietnamese restaurants are incredibly kid-friendly. If you order pho (pronounced phuh, rice noodle soup with beef or chicken), most places will provide an extra bowl and scissors to snip long noodles without being asked. Lorne loves the rice noodles and wholesome beef broth. Fresh rolls, again made with rice flour plus shrimp or pork, are another healthy option. Just steer clear of the super spicy Sriracha sauce.

Dosas (light crepes made of rice and lentils, perfect for anyone with a gluten sensitivity) are a great option to share with kids. They taste good with ketchup and cheese, or the mild-flavoured sambar (vegetable and legume stew) and chutneys that usually accompany them. Our local even does a Mickey Mouse-shaped dosa.

Dim sum is our favourite meal if we’re celebrating. One restaurant we love has the various dishes on trolleys pushed around by servers so we just point at what we want to try. Spring rolls, steamed dumplings and even Chinese-style hotdogs are offered. The trolley option offers great variety, and is very popular with us as there’s no gap between arriving at the restaurant and the food turning up. Our other favourite dim sum restaurant makes all their MSG free dumplings to order and from scratch. The food takes longer to arrive, but the chefs are always happy to demonstrate their skills and give Lorne some dumpling dough to play with while he waits.

Ethiopian food is nutritious, filling, sociable and lots of fun. Small tasty portions of meat or vegetable stews are served on a giant edible platter of injera (a flat Ethiopian bread that is naturally very high in iron). The injera isn’t just the plate, it’s the spoon as well, so we love taking turns scooping up the different stews. It’s a bit messy but fun. The traditional coffee ceremony is fascinating: just keep children out of the way of the hot roasting pan as it comes around. The coffee is served at the end of the meal with popcorn – what could be more kid-friendly? Other things we love when we eat out: drinking Japanese miso from the bowl, West Indian chicken rotis (beware the turmeric in the sauce – it really stains), and Korean sweet or savoury mashed potato pancakes.

Laragh Kedwell is the production manager for ParentsCanada. Her three-year-old son Lorne’s favourite dish is Vietnamese noodles.

Published in November 2010.

By Laragh Kedwell| November 03, 2010

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