Raising a Cultured Kid: Exciting Eateries for Toddlers & Preschoolers

Ethnic eats

Even if your child will only eat pasta, you don't have to completely forgo dining out on exotic fare. Every cuisine has a plain starchy food that kids can fall back on if the other foods are too intimidating: plain rice, breads (like Indian nan), potatoes, tortillas. Don't forget drinks, too. Fresh guava, mango and other exotic fruit nectars are healthy and fun to introduce your children to. Also, many ethnic restaurants have their version of a sweetened milk drink, whether it's a Greek yogurt smoothie or Thai coconut milk extraction.

While you're in China, Ethiopia, Greece, by all means, dine the way the Chinese, Ethiopians and Greeks do. It'll add to the experience. Take chopsticks. Your little imp can master them, you know. Asian cultures rig them up by wrapping rubber bands around the tops to make it easier for their children to learn. Just ask the waitstaff to prepare a version for your child. She'll probably get such a kick out of them, you'll end up with them at home.

And if you don't have a good handle on what your child will actually eat, ask the waitress for her suggestions. At a Japanese restaurant, one mom was told that the small flying fish roe is popular among Japanese-American children. She was sure her preschooler would never go for it, but when Alice received a little mound, placed oh-so-delicately in a scooped-out piece of cucumber, she giggled and said, "It's soooo cute," then proceeded to play with it a bit before giving it a try.

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