*(As published in the Spring edition of Link Magazine, April 2017)*
There’s something about being on holiday that seems to open up kids’ minds around trying new foods isn’t there? It’s like their palates mature instantly once they are checked in to their holiday destination. Things that are rejected at home (eughh, vegetables, shellfish!) seem to transform into something much more appealing when the sun is shining and you’ve got sand between your toes.
I’m the same. Griddled octopus on a rainy February in Sheffield? No thanks, I’ll just have the salmon pasta. But on a balmy summer evening in a Spanish plaza, bring it on! Maybe it’s just being able to eat outside more often that makes us more accepting of trying new tastes, or rediscovering old forgotten ones. Or maybe it’s the way that the smells, sights and sounds of food markets envelop us as we stroll by, their local cuisine encouraging us to challenge our food prejudices and get stuck in. I remember a pre-kids trip to Thailand where the night markets provided a sensory overload; spicy, sweet, sour, salty and bitter smells wafted through the air, drawing people in to their stalls selling humble street food. So good!
It doesn’t always have to be sunny to try, and subsequently demolish, new foods though. My middle son fell in love with cockles and winkles, steeped in vinegar, out of a little polystyrene pot on a rainy afternoon by Whitby harbour this past summer!
Every trip we’ve made with the kids, be it home or abroad has opened up their palates to lots of new tastes. Unfortunately, these are not always the most nutritious new food loves. Loaded hotdogs in Chicago, covered in fried onions and dripping with mustard being a case in point. Ah well, I’m all about balance!
One particular trip sticks in the memory from a couple of years ago, when we took a city break to Rome before child number 3 came along (things felt much simpler then!). Italian food on the whole is very accessible to kids, they understand pasta and pizza, and of course ice cream, as these foods are so much part of our everyday eating nowadays. This was the trip where our eldest son discovered seafood in all its glory. He declared himself too old to eat from the children’s menu (don’t even get me started on awful samey children’s menus!), and proceeded to look through the main menu with the help of a delightful waiter. He settled on a seafood pizza and when delivered to the table it was resplendent with mussels, cockles, prawns, you name it. A seafood dream! He devoured the lot, and a love of seafood which continues to this day was born. His Grandad is now almost bankrupt from cooking mussels for him every time we visit.
We are lucky in Sheffield to have so many cafes, delis and restaurants selling food from across the globe, so recreating that little bit of holiday cheer isn’t too difficult. The Greedy Greek Deli www.greedygreekdeli.co.uk on Sharrow Vale Road is stocked full of Greek delights. Cubana www.cubanatapasbar.co.uk in Leopold Square offers a heady mix of Spanish, Latin, Cuban and South American fare to tempt many a reminiscent traveller. And who can ignore the whole range of cuisines available on London Road; Japanese, Thai, Indian, Chinese, Mexican. You name it, you can find it and enjoy it on London Road.
So, I suppose the motto of this article is go, travel, taste, and try to bring a little bit of that adventurous eating back with you. I’m definitely going to try and take that advice on board – planning a Thai green curry for dinner as we speak!
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