Redefine the concept of the kids’ menu on your next family vacation. Instead of bland chicken tenders each day, introduce your tiny tourists to different cultures through more adventurous eating. Cultivating a lasting spirit of wanderlust through global foods takes more than ordering pasta in Italy or borscht in Russia. Turn eating into an adventure, from foraging for fungi to cooking with top chefs.
Here are five family-friendly culinary experiences that are sure to whet the palates of tiny pathfinders — and make for one epic getaway.
1. Take a culinary tour
Book a family-friendly culinary tour to maximize kids’ exposure to local foods while minimizing the legwork on your part. East End Food Tour in London will sate history buffs and hungry young travelers alike with its medley of tastings. Some flavors will be more familiar to kids, like bacon sandwiches or fish and chips, while others may challenge their tastebuds, such as Brick Lane’s famous curries and sticky toffee pudding.
Expose kids to authentic eating experiences in Nairobi by joining Urban Adventures on a day tour. The outings include a market excursion and lunch with a local family — the kind of hands-on experience kids love. Plus, net proceeds from the tour support a charity that enables Kenyan women to become entrepreneurs.
2. Cook with a chef
Two hours from Bangkok, InterContinental Hua Hin Resort’s Thai Tuk Tuk Adventure will be the highlight of your kid’s vacation. Pirom restaurant’s Chef Lek offers an immersive gastronomy voyage that begins with a tuk tuk trip to the local markets, where your little chef will help pick out fresh produce to cook back in the resort’s kitchen.
Older kids interested in learning more advanced culinary lessons may enjoy InterContinental Hong Kong’s “Cooking with the Culinary Stars” classes. During these sessions, guests are invited to whip up desserts and signature dishes alongside esteemed chefs from the hotel’s restaurants like NOBU and SPOON.
3. Forage for food
Long after you’ve returned home, your young seafarer will have dreams of skimming the waves of Nova Scotia with the Sea & Do Lobster Road Trip, which features a variety of ways for kids to experience fresh lobster in Nova Scotia.
Other opportunities for your kids to be a part of gathering their own meals around the globe abound. Take them on a truffle hunting tour in Tuscany or head for the French mountains of Auvergne to forage for wild edible plants with Christophe Anglade of Aluna Voyages.
4. Dazzle kids with bizarre delicacies
It’s not a true food adventure without a few genuine thrills. Push kids outside their culinary comfort zones by encouraging them to munch on fried scorpions at Beijing’s Donghuamen Night Market or crocodile burgers at Mason’s Cafe in Queensland. Even if these local delicacies don’t become your children’s all-time favorite meal, trying them can turn them into fearless travelers with an arsenal of great stories to tell.
5. Explore global food bazaars
You’ll never forget the moment when your kids first visit a giant food hall in a foreign land, their eyes widening at the riot of colors and olfactory smack of unknown aromas. London’s Fortnum and Mason is one such place, brimming with beautifully presented artisanal cheeses and the finest handmade chocolates.
Sampling before buying is customary at the spice bazaar in Istanbul, so kids will get a mouthful of delights while browsing towers of Turkish delight candies and rolled stacks of traditional fruit leather.
Whether you bring the family along to the Cours Saleya flower-and-food market in Nice, France or to Helsinki’s Kauppatori, or Market Square, for a taste of the Arctic, these flavorful childhood experiences will linger on in their memories for years.