Have you ever planned a trip around a food festival, a restaurant, or even a specialty dish? I defy you to browse through this mouth-watering book without fantasizing about a future feast in some foreign land.
Gorgeous to look at and fun to read, the book is packed with photos and descriptions of food from all over the world, including the ultimate food destination – Eastern Europe. (That’s me being facetious, but I wrote that chapter, so I have to plug it.) The coffee table book includes a few reviews and a bunch of recipes. But the real reason to read this book is to whet your appetite…
While you’re at it, show it to your children, look at the photos together and talk about all the strange and delicious things that people eat.
Here’s where you get to read my pitch for going local when you travel. I’m in favor of introducing children to exotic foods, even the ones that are slimy, spicy or otherwise scary. I’m not against packing boxes of mac `n’ cheese in your suitcase, but don’t serve them every meal. It’s a missed opportunity to share an important part of the local culture and – more importantly – to expose the little ones to something new and delightful (even if they don’t appreciate it).
I don’t promise that your picky eaters will like anything that you offer them – at home or on the road. I would never ever be so foolish as to promise that, as I have two finicky toddlers of my own; and I have given up trying to predict whether or not they will want to eat something I serve.
But I have noticed that the more I expose them to different smells, flavors, textures and colors, the more they try and the more they like. It’s not happening all at once. It’s not even happening slowly but surely. But every once in a while, the twins surprise me by eating and enjoying something I don’t expect.
This week it was baba ghanoush. I was skeptical when Daddio served the eggplant spread along with tiny pita squares for lunch one day. (The twins are not fooled by the prospect of dipping, as some kids are.) But the baba ghanoush was a huge hit – and it became even more popular when Daddio started saying it in a slow dramatic voice. “Ba-ba-gha-noooooouuuush.” Soon all three of my boys gobbling up bites in between verses of the baba ghanoush chant.
So I declared a minor victory. At least until our next serving of baba ghanoush, which could have a completely different outcome.