Mom: “We’re going on a field trip today!”
Child: “Cool. Where?”
Mom: “A grocery store!”
Child: [Insert unimpressed stare right… about… HERE.]
Mom: “Wait, this will be fun – you get to pick things out!”
Child: “We never get to pick things out. Well, almost never.”
Mom: “No… you mean you don’t get to throw a bunch of over-processed nonsense into the cart. Today, you get to pick things out.”
Child: “What’s the catch?”
Oh, they know me so well! Recently, I took my children on a field trip to a local Asian supermarket. They were given a few simple instructions. First, they needed to walk through the entire store – every aisle, every refrigerated case – and simply look around. Second, they needed to select two items with which they were completely unfamiliar to take home and try. Third, The total cost of each child’s two items needed to be less than $5. Fourth, everyone needed to try at least one small bite of what everyone else picked. As expected, rule #4 put a slightly evil glint in my oldest child’s eye…
We. Had. A. Blast!
Half-Pint, my youngest, selected Hello Panda cookies and a small jar of preserved kumquats. Half-Pint’s reasons? The Hello Panda cookies looked “happy” and the preserved kumquats were in an orange jar. Half-Pint likes the color orange.
The Pickle in the Middle picked out a small taro root (“It looks like a hairy potato!”) and two Chinese bakery items. The taro root only cost a few cents, and so The Pickle in the Middle made a good case for a third item. 😉
My oldest, oh so eager to share with siblings, went straight for the durian – a fruit made famous by it’s terrible, awful smell. It was a bit expensive, so my oldest stayed with one item.
Since my children were clearly inspired to try new things, I added a few items of my own to our shopping cart. In addition to experimenting with the items already mentioned, Crowded Earth Kitchen will soon feature recipes using tamarind, green papaya, lemongrass, and Chinese barbeque sauce. Stay tuned!
The moral of the story is that children will try new foods if grown-ups make it a game and give them some control. Even if it means eating something that smells like… well… that’s another post for another day.