Food. Travel. Babies. Oh MY.

I have embarked on a courageous summer-long journey with my kids, solo. SOLO. I know, I’m insane. In the midst of beautiful evergreen trees and fresh water lakes, with a side of crazy, I have been beyond grateful for my friend Lilli’s words of wisodom. This is the first post of a series of guest posts this summer. I hope you Enjoy…

 

Travel can be an amazing opportunity for growth.  Whether we travel alone for business/pleasure or with others on vacation the opportunity for exciting new experiences enriches our lives.  The same holds true for our children.  Travel can enrich the lives of our children but only if we make a point nurture the travel bug that lies somewhere within us all.   I write this post to encourage you travel the world with your children and to find the very best of nature’s bounty.  Travel far and wide to seek food gems.  Let them taste the Boston lobster, Mexican batidos (a smoothie of sorts made with milk and fresh fruit) and exotic fruits.
(photo credit: Future expat)
Food can be the most memorable part of the travel experience. I was five the first time I visited Mexico City and my strongest memory of that trip is tied to food.  I can still smell the roasting pumpkin seeds that my cousins bought for me from the cart on the corner. I also vividly remember the cream and cheese and soups that accompanied every savory meal.  I ate things I had never tried before and I long to enjoy some of those meals again.
Our senses are the fastest connection to our memory.  A song can transport us to another time or another place.  A smell can bring back memories of times and places in our lives.  When it comes to travel and our children we can enhance their experience by allowing them to soak in as much of the area’s sounds, smells, and flavors.
When my husband and I started traveling with our first child we tried to make the food of the region part of that experience.  The avocados and mangoes in Monterrey, Mexico are a particularly memorable example.  The season had peaked and my daughter seemed to know she was getting that beautiful fruit at its very best.  We mashed the avocados and tore up tiny pieces of the soft margarita bread. She loved those tasty morsels.
(photo credit:Flickr )
“But my child won’t eat anything except cereal for breakfast “
We underestimate children.  If given an opportunity they might really surprise you.  The fact that they are in a different environment and probably with different people when you travel will set the stage for them to try new flavors.  Of course if they won’t try it don’t stress.  And if they do experiment with new food tell them how proud you are!  Lead by example and try something different yourself.  Let them see you eating differently than you do at home.
The only time I ever eat roasted nuts is when I buy them from a street vendor in NYC.  My daughter and I have a tradition of sharing a bag every time we go to the big city.  Simple things like drinking carrot juice instead of orange juice for breakfast or eating fruit instead of bread or cereal are typical in other countries and can make your child’s travel experience that much more memorable and meaningful.
Here are 5 quick tips to help you incorporate great regional foods into your family’s meals while traveling:
  • Do a little research online before you go and find out what the “typical” foods of that area are.  Learn about the ingredients so you can prep your child with friendly reminders.
    • Make a list and bring it with you to make it a point to try some or all of them with your family.
    • Visit a local market once you arrive. It will fully transport your mind body and spirit to the new environment.
    • Snack foods are an easy friendly place to start experimenting.
  • Try foreign versions of familiar favorites.  A Nutella sandwich instead of Peanut butter sandwich.  Carrot juice instead of Orange.
  • Savor the flavors
    • Romans eat gelato, but more importantly, they stroll or sit in a square enjoying the sights and sounds while doing so.  Make the food experience part of the travel experience.  Although slowing down to take in life is not typically American remember that you are on holiday and what better time to live a little differently and a little slower.
  • Forget about the kids menu.
    • In North America there very well might be a kids menu, but try to avoid these options.  Share your plate with your little one or order something for them from the adult menu to encourage a different mindset.
    • If you are in another foreign country kids menus may not be common.  Many restaurants are very accommodating though so don’t be afraid to ask if you need them to give you single ingredients or modified dishes.  As long as you are polite and enlist their help most establishments will try to work with you.
  • Don’t be afraid to try new foods.
    • Don’t worry, I’m not talking about “bizarre foods” just new to you or prepared differently. If you’ll try it your child might also.
More than once we have been surprised by my daughter’s taste.  She’s not really a picky eater as much as an unpredictable one.  One day she’ll eat mushrooms the next she picks them off the plate.  So we just never know but we always offer and let her try things.  We were very surprised to learn that our toddler liked calamari and Kalamata olives as well as fish. We have learned that her taste is often tied to her mood and we try to never assume what she will or will not eat.
Now that you’re prepared for your trip don’t forget to make food a central part of your adventure.  It will strengthen memories for you and your children transporting you all to that time and place with each future bite.
 (Photo credit : my tots travel)
Lilliana Gonzalez is a wife, mother, employee, & entrepreneur balances her responsibilities with her love of travel.   Motivated by the sight of new parents traveling with a new baby she started www.mytotstravel.com that spotlights family travel.  Visitors of her site can also rent baby equipment in San Antonio.  Join her as she learns to parent on the road of life.

 

Life Lessons From Lil Bean Sprout

Here’s my sweet Lil Bean Sprout exploring food for the first time (I know he is one Delicious little man, isn’t he?) I could just eat him up.

I have a serious confession.  As he experienced the colors, the tastes, the smells and the textures of good food my mind was spinning like a dradle in the middle of Chanukah.   My heart skipped a beat every time something landed on the floor or rolled off the place mat.  I was as nervous as a long tailed donkey in a room full of rocking chairs. Me, a Mama who prides herself on her passion for the edibles was turning into a meat ball of stress.

Yikes!

Let me explain… My Lil Bean Sprout was happy for about 15 minutes playing with his green salad and his banana-in-a-mesh-bag-thingy.  In baby time this is equivalent an 8 hour day marching around the San Antonio Zoo.  I bet you’re asking yourself… Shouldn’t she have been happy that her son was content for a full 15 minutes?  Unfortunately, No!  I was fighting a battle with my inner-self.  As the beautiful food chaos blossomed my maternal urges for cleanliness and order surged and I just about swiped that lettuce out from under him.

Oi Vey!

( Key words here, Just About)

Instead I had a small victory over my Type Anal personality. I tried to sit back, relax, and let nature take it’s course.  He was tasting, looking, touching, licking, slapping, drooling, gripping and twisting; and it really made this Food Lovin’ Mama proud.

There is a life lesson in this post.  My fellow Food Lovin’ Mamas out there, let’s make a joint pact: No crying over spilled salad.

Deep Breath. We can do it.  We have vacuum cleaners and/or husbands.  These spontaneous moments of joy can only be captured for a short time.  Let’s sit back and let our little sprouts play with their food.  Trust me it’s worth it, even if you do end up stepping on something slimy at 2am.  Let Go and Let Food.

Until next time…