There’s no question your children have already mastered Italian cuisine (pizza and pasta), American fare (hamburgers and fries) and quite possibly, the odd side of Turkish (kebabs).
But what if you desire for them to eat something a little less… garden variety? How do you introduce fussy eaters to the flavours of India, Vietnam, Iran or Kenya?
On paper it may not seem like the easiest task in the world, however you might be surprised by how far you can get with the following ideas.
Introduce family date night
Once a month, take your family to a restaurant you haven’t been to before.
The two rules? Each time you must try a new cuisine and each member of the family (yes, even the little ones) has to bring suggestions to the table and explain why it would be a good option for you to try.
If children feel involved in the decision-making process, they’re more inclined to feel excited about eating at that Afghan eatery (especially if you feed them some interesting facts about the country beforehand).
Stage culture night
In our family, we love to have nights where everything – the food, music, entertainment and occasionally, dress-ups – are themed around a particular country.
For example, if we have 'Japan night', we will cook Japanese food, play Japanese music and watch a crazy Japanese game show afterwards.
One non-negotiable part of the evening? Every member of the family will come to the dinner armed with 10 interesting facts about that particular country and read them at the dinner table.
Give them books
Sometimes it’s a good idea to have others plant the ‘world food’ seed, and a good way of doing that is by purchasing or borrowing books such as Come and Eat With Us by Annie Kubler or Everybody Cooks Rice by Norah Dooley.
In Come and Eat with Us, each character shares their favourite foods and provides a list of typical foods found in their native country.
Every member of the family has to come to the dinner armed with 10 interesting facts about that particular country and read them at the dinner table.
In Everybody Cooks Rice, the main character is invited into several, ethnically diverse households where rice is being prepared. She’s looking for her brother, but what she stumbles upon is a brilliant (and mouth-watering) education.
Who doesn’t love the feeling of ticking off a long-standing item on a to-do list?
Give little ones that ‘ahhh’ feeling and mock up a ‘Foods of the World’ passport, which gets stamped every time they try a new cuisine, or purchase a 'scratch-off' world map to hang in their room. No new cuisine, no scratching to reveal the different countries like it’s begging them to do.
Book cooking classes
There’s nothing kids love more than enrolling in some holiday cupcake making and pizza-making classes.
But why leave it there? Hunt around for a kids cooking program that offers multicultural fare - from nasi goreng to Vietnamese rice paper rolls - and let your kids get excited about exploring new tastes.
Can’t find a cooking school with an adequate program near you? Dust off the cookbooks and select a few simple dishes you can make together.
Insist on a few new rules
And finally, a few basic ideas to instil between all the fun stuff.
Be a good role model and ensure your child sees you eating a wide variety of multicultural fare yourself. If you’re in a holiday resort environment and there happens to be a buffet, ask that your child try at least one local dish in among all that macaroni and cheese.
No matter how much they resist in the beginning, keep on offering new foods. In time, the food that surrounds them won’t seem so foreign at all.