• In our family, we love to have regular nights where everything is themed around a particular country. (Sharyn Cairns)
Stuck in a hellish world of nuggets and chips? Introduce your little ones to a world of new flavours by incorporating a few small activities.
Dilvin Yasa

12 Feb 2018 - 11:44 AM  UPDATED 13 Feb 2018 - 12:41 PM

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.

Fish curry with rice from Indonesia.

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).

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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.

Lee Luk and sushi master Ryuichi Yoshii are serving up a menu that’s divided into raw, grilled and steamed.

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.

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When you own and operate one of the hottest restaurants in London, the next step is obvious – you publish a cookbook. Of course, it can go wrong (and frequently does), but when it’s The Palomar, you can be assured that your food will make it stand out on the bookshop shelves.
Luke Nguyen's Street Food Asia - Cookbook
Luke embarks on a culinary exploration of street food in Saigon, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta.

Get crafty

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.

Use interactive tools to gt your kids inspired about trying new cuisines.

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.

Pop-up cooking classes offer a taste of the world
An enterprising scheme brings together recent arrivals and people keen to try new recipes.

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. 

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