There are many corners that our children turn that are more exciting for us than for the kids themselves. That first airplane ride that doesn’t involve a crying fit, a change of clothes or dirty looks from fellow passengers. The first movie she sits through in its entirety (in a theater) without any shushing or spilled popcorn. That first trip to the grocery store where your son actually behaves in the cart and ‘helps’ you instead of driving you crazy. My personal favorite was the first meal at a restaurant that didn’t involve a bib, high chair or a pile of crayons and/or French fries all over the floor.
My husband and I are proud to call ourselves, ‘foodies’. We’ve enjoyed exploring the NYC restaurant scene since our first date. We will try everything eagerly and love a wide range of ethnic foods and delicacies. We will research restaurants, travel distances to get to them and enjoy a dinner at a new spot much more than one at the movies or theater. We discuss meals constantly, try new recipes and plan special occasions around what we‘ll be serving. Our take-out menu drawer is overflowing and Zagat and yelp are bookmarked on our phones and computers.
Once we became parents, meals at restaurants took a hiatus as we quickly realized that young kids and a peaceful meal rarely mix well. As our girls grew, we noticed differences – not only in their personalities, but in their palates as well.
Our older one has been an adventurous eater from the start. At seven years old, she orders mussels, loves raw shellfish, and has even tried chicken feet (and liked it). During Hurricane Irene, I sent her and my husband out to get some staples. She enthusiastically came back with head cheese, blood sausage and beer cheese. On the other hand, our little one is the picky eater who prefers to stick to the basics like pasta, chicken and fruit. She has recently developed a taste for sushi and we’re hopeful that with time and exposure, she will wholeheartedly join the rest of in us our culinary adventures.
This past weekend turned out to be a spontaneous foodie weekend for all of us. Friday night, we took the girls for Japanese BBQ at Gyu-Kaku. The girls were enthralled with the concept of grilling their food at the table. After words of caution, we handed them their tongs and watched as they had a blast grilling shrimp, short ribs, and corn. They loved the marinades and even wanted to grill their dumplings! They both tried everything and are already asking to go back. We had just as much fun as they did, and were thrilled to see them so excited about a new food experience.
Saturday night was ‘make-your-own-pizza night’ and they got right in there, kneading the dough, spreading the sauce and cutting the mozzarella, prosciutto and mushrooms (with a butter knife, of course).
Their creation was delicious and it was a pleasure seeing them as enthusiastic about the preparation of the meal as they were eating their masterpiece.
We ended the weekend with a trip to the Museum of Natural History to check out the new exhibit: Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture. As usual, the Museum did not disappoint. This is a kid-friendly exhibit exploring the history and evolution of the global system of food. We were able to cook virtual meals such as Mexican tamales and West African groundnut soup. We tasted coconut water and granola in the working kitchen, and observed an array of products sold at an Aztec Market from the 1500s. The girls were stunned by the basket of toasted grasshoppers and the fact that cacao beans were used as currency.
With short films and easy-to-read placards, the girls were able to grasp quick facts about hunger, obesity, food growth and transportation – and our role in it all. We were all stunned by the tower representing the 1600+ pounds of food wasted each year by a family of four. The girls loved the various sniffing stations with push buttons enabling one to get a whiff of popcorn, chocolate, lavender, fennel and thyme.
We learned about different meals, utensils and cooking techniques throughout history and across the globe. There was an abundance of interesting facts sprinkled throughout. For instance, we learned that 90% of all European oysters come from France, and that there is a Scoville Scale, which measures the ‘hotness’ of anything derived from a chili pepper. We left with a fresh perspective on how food is grown, how it gets to our plates and how the methods and techniques continue to evolve around all aspects of what we eat. It is an excellent exhibit for kids and adults, and our daughters are still talking about how they can eat better and waste less.
Our foodie weekend was equal parts informative and delicious. We all try our best as parents to teach our kids how to make good choices in life while being positive role models for them. Having two daughters, and always having struggled with my weight, I know only too well how rampant body image issues are in our society. I find the current rates of childhood obesity and diabetes frightening. I wish there was a surefire way to ensure that my girls never have to suffer a moment of anguish or stress over their weight. While there’s no way to do that, it is my responsibility to help them learn to value a healthy lifestyle.
By giving them opportunities to explore various cuisines, involving them in the purchase and preparation process of our meals (in ways that are exciting and fun) and incorporating exercise into our lives, my hope is that they will learn to instinctively make healthy choices while simultaneously developing a passion and joy for… food, glorious food!
For more information about the exhibit Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture at the Museum of Natural History, click here.
The exhibit lasts through August 11, 2013.
Prior to becoming a stay at home mom, Mina was an HR Recruiter for years. Now her time is spent happily juggling the demands of two young daughters while trying to expose them to the endless adventures the city has to offer
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