The family that eats together — and everything together — can avert travel melt-downs through rigorous training and palette refining, one family goes on a food odyssey in NYC — from foul to foie gras — and discover they can all have good tastes.
WE ARE INTREPID TRAVELERS, OUR KIDS ARE used to being carted along wherever we go. Traveling is an escape, so when we travel, we expect to eat what we want to eat — not happy meals, not pizza, not pasta. We like exotic food, it's part of the traveling experience and we want our kids along with us for the ride. And rockstar pediatrician Michel Cohen is very much in favor of letting kids taste whatever the grownups are eating — and from a very young age. What Dr. Cohen doesn't understand is that it's not always easy to get your kids to try new foods — particularly one the road.
A few weeks ago, we were out to lunch with our two towheaded daughters — Oona, eight, and Daphne, nearly six — and our sophisticated French friend, Karl.
Karl works in the fashion industry and often travels internationally for work. He eats out a lot. He once taught our kids how to bake an exquisite peach tarte tatin. So imagine Karl's confusion at lunch that day when Daphne asked for lemonade, only to royally freak when it arrived with a wedge of real lemon. "I hate lemon!" Daphne squealed.
"Daphne," Karl pleaded, bemused. "You do know how lemonade is made, don't you?"
She does. Thing is, Daphne loves lemonade but cannot abide lemons. Like most kids, she is particular and picky about food. But our girls also have adventurous culinary streaks. At two, Oona knew more about sushi than we did at 22. Lately, though, Oona and Daphne have mounted complicated veggie protests, often complaining that our greens du jour "look gross," or "taste slimey" or, what surely must be every chef's least favorite critique, "smell like poop." Most nights upon sitting down for dinner, there is some variation on: "We don't like broccoli." This isn't cool.
This will not do in our house. Food is an important, exciting part of life, and besides, we want to travel as much as we can with the girls, and even have inchoate plans to some day live in Europe for a year. We need to raise fearsome little foodies that are road-ready, so we consulted with Food Republic's (www.foodrepublic.com) Matt Rodbard on the most family-friendly yet ethnically exotic and hunger-quenching dishes in New York. He found all the nooks and crannies and epicurean treasures that satisfy both a kids' curiosity and an adult palette.
Our mission was clear: We would expand our kids' incredibly shrinking palettes. In order to do so, we hit a few New York City restaurants — ethnic eateries, local specialties and delicate fine dining. The results were delicious, occasionally gruesome and ultimately encouraging. Dinner — along with breakfast and two lunches — is served.