(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!
I will have a hard time feeding our little nugget fish eggs... But I WILL try. Just for you. And maybe I should branch out too... Gotta love good 'old MN!
I don't think you can judge this early what kind of eaters your kids will be. All toddlers are picky by nature. One day they'll like something, the next day they want nothing to do with it. I'm trying to buy new things for the boys to let them try out but they honestly just love fruits and veggies. I put any kind of bread or meat product on their plate (grilled cheese, etc.) and it's rarely eaten or the last thing to be picked at.
I'm a very picky eater. I dont' think it means I'm sheltered, I just don't like the taste of a lot of things. And I grew up in the midwest with a similar experience with food before college.
Chikezie's family has a lot of traditional Nigerian foods that I really don't mind. Except for his mom's okra stew. UGH. I hate the smell of okra. She makes it for fu fu, basically cream of wheat balled up and dipped into the meat stew with your hands. She makes it for us whenever she comes and makes me feel guilty that I don't make it for Chikeize haha. The boys don't really like it yet either.
We eat just about anything, I don't think I could eat an eyeball but just about anything else. My daughter isn't picky at all and her favorite is curried chicken or lentils we love those two! I love to eat spicy, she isn't that fond of it yet but can actually eat hotter food than some adults I know!
I am so far happy she hasn't acted picky, but I let her eat whatever she chooses right now because she chooses healthy and diverse foods.
My daughter was a picky eater from the start. From when we first started feeding her mushed up baby food, she had opinions about what she wanted to eat.
For months, all she would eat is Mac and Cheese and hot dogs. Of course she chose the worst foods as her favorites.
I swore it would be different when I had my boy. So, I made his baby food from scratch, I exposed him to lots of different kinds of food and it worked! He loves food like my daughter never has.
I'm all about making it healthy, and making it available to your kids.
I too am from Minnesota and then I moved to Utah and I was food sheltered. I moved to Hawaii and was forced to try new things and now I love food. So, even if you kids don't love a lot of foods right away, they still can when they grow up.
Ha Ha, I must say that we always cooked lots of interesting food in the house, but Becky REFUSED to even try it, as well as the other children.
When we had stir fry, only the meat and white rice would be eaten, which was fine, because that meant more bok choy and water chestnuts for us. It was only after someone besides her parents tried to get her to try something new that she relented. Roommate peer pressure is way more persuasive then parental threats!
I agree with Mama Mandolin... I grew up with REALLY adventurous parents. We lived in a big city and did a lot of traveling. As a baby? I ate everything (I heart) and my parents were so proud of themselves. Then I stopped. My dad, a nutritionist, says this is common- basically all kids go through this phase, no matter how adventurous they are as babies. I don't have a toddler yet but I try not to worry about this because I've seen it with so many other kids. But anyway...I regained my adventurous eating habits after a year or two.
(My parents actually have a story that sounds like yours-- we were traveling to Asia, and our first day, they thought they should feed me something familiar (I was two) to help me feel at home. They decided on a hamburger, which I had no interest in. Then they realized I'd never had a hamburger before. Oh well.)
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