There’s an easier way to teach kids about differences other than traveling. Introduce them to international dishes is a great way. We’re lucky to have so many in our little college town. When McDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut, or other chain restaurant come handy sometime, trying on international dishes is more fun. The Americanized version could be a start… like PF Chang’s (Pan Pacific cuisine), Taco Bell (Mexican fast food), or Macaroni Grill (Italian dishes).
Keep an open mind when you’re ready to move on to the next level. The more authentic international cuisine restaurant may not be big, cozy, or trendy like the Americanized version ones. Cafetaria setting, plastic utensils, bland decoration; these might distract your interest. At least, these are the main concerns for the international restaurants here in our town. But the food’s worth it.
Davi and Dante’s first ever international food was Indonesian. I remember taking Davi there when she was 11 month, because that was when she started to walk. She took on Kwetiau Goreng (Char Kway Teow = flat fried noodle) and Tahu Goreng (fried tofu). ‘Bali Satay House’ (the Indonesian restaurant)’s been the kids’ most favorite restaurant for so long other than ‘Little Taipei’ (Chinese cuisine), ‘La Hacienda’ (Mexican dishes), and Pammel Grocery’s gyros. Like most adult as well, Davi and Dante were hesitant to try at first. The look of it, the smell, the unfamiliarity of the new dish. They’ll make this ‘ewww‘ face at first. We’ll encourage them by saying, “It’s not bad… it’s just different.” How would you know that you like or hate it if you don’t at least take one bite?
Along came this new Indian restaurant called the ‘India Palace’. Since then, it’s been our kids’ most favorite restaurant. Tandoori chicken, lamb sagwala, matar paneer, and naan with tamarind chutney, are Davi and Dante’s choice of the menu. I’m still surprised to hear their answer when offered to pick a restaurant to go on weekends. Eight times out of ten, they’d say, “Indian restaurant with the red chicken bone!”
Last night, we tried the Greek restaurant. We ordered saganaki for appetizer and explained to the kids about the traditon of yelling ‘Opa!’ when the fire was lit. Still, their expression was priceless when they actually saw the fire and forgot their ‘Opa!’ for a split second. Recovered from the very scary act of lighting up a fire on a meal, curious Davi then asked, “Hey… how did she light up the fire?”