(I didn't know that Tonga was a real place until I left home. The VERY popular [in Utah, at least] Hawaiian Haystacks were a revelation to me, and they are hardly ethic food.)
As far as foreign food restaurants go, Buffalo Minnesota had "Aloha Chinese" and "Taco John's." As an adult, the names of those restaurants horrify me. So is it Hawaiian or Chinese? American or Mexican?
We didn't even have an Olive Garden! Though there was one about 40 minutes away, which we would go to if we wanted to really treat ourselves.
When I moved away for college, I had roommates from California and Arizona. They did bizarro things, like watch French documentaries and order take out from Menu's that had unrecognizable Gods on them. Sure, I'd already been to China and Hong Kong, but I'd made a sincere effort to only eat white rice and scrambled eggs while there.
(I really regret that I wasn't more adventurous while I there, but to be fair... I was only a naive, unexposed, 16-year old little white girl. I sobbed most of the first two days because everything in Hong Kong was so horrifying to me and I had a mad case of culture shock.)
My roommates introduced me to all kinds of crazy, unimaginable foods.... like curry. Or Thai food. Cilantro. Ginger root. Lentils.
I mean, really. I'd never had lentils. I didn't know that people in America could even eat lentils!
I definitely didn't know that you could MAKE snickerdoodles. I thought they were cookies only sold at bookstore coffee shops.
When I went home over the summer after my sophomore year of college, I seasoned some chicken for my family with curry powder. They were all very horrified and assured me that they were uninterested in eating it.
Only after the delicious curry-chicken smells wafted in from the grill did my mother and one of my cousins agree to try it.
In recent years, my parents have also left the tiny town that I'm from, and grown much more adventurous in their eating. On their last visit, my little brother requested that I make Pad Thai for dinner.
I didn't even know what Pad Thai was when I was twenty-years old, let alone fourteen.
My dad has even been known to whip up a tasty curry or two.
When my sister Mary was here two weeks ago, I roasted some cauliflower. She refused to eat it. During her stay we were forbidden from making any seafood, curries, or you know... eggplant and the like. (Although she does eat and make more Asian food than the rest of us.)
But my point is this: I grew up seriously food-sheltered.
And I'm trying really hard to make my boys into adventurous eaters.
So when they're in Africa for the first time, they don't have a complete fit of giggles when they're offered goat meat, like some people I know. (Me.)
When the doctor informed me that my kids needed more meat, I knew they couldn't eat much beyond hamburger and chicken nuggets, but I couldn't bear to feed that to my boys.
So I ground up chicken with lots of garlic, herbs and spices for them. Homemade chicken nuggets, it is!
They're the spiciest chicken nuggets I've ever had, but my kids love them.
They are turning into some of the weirdest eaters. They refuse to eat a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but will scarf down fish with a black bean sauce and cilantro lime rice in a heart beat.
They are rarely interested in eating oatmeal, Cream of Wheat, or plain Cheerios, but they eat bites of my grapefruit and lick their bowls after they've had sushi and fish eggs.
Maybe that doesn't seem weird to you.
Maybe you LOVE grapefruit and fish eggs, and always have.
But I didn't know people (beside those crazy French people) ate things like fish eggs until I was an adult, and I still can't really stomach them, so I'm pretty impressed with my little babies.
I'd love to hear about your food.
What do you eat, and feed your kids?
Did you feed your kids crazy things and then end up with picky eaters anyway? (that's my fear!)
What's your baby's favorite food? We're always looking for new things to try!