Is feeding your child French fries twice a day, five days in a row, a form of child abuse?
When you’re on vacation, you start to wonder. I mean, who serves deep-fried potato wedges at home? But on the road, almost every meal comes with a side of fries or chips. Even breakfast.
I ask because in our search for new and exotic local foods as we travel, it seems the kids would much rather stick to the usual suspects:
- Kids’ pizza
- Hot dog or corn dog
- Chicken fingers
- Mac and cheese
- Hamburger or cheeseburger
And they’re all served with the ubiquitous French fries. Mon Dieu!
Can we really blame the kids? We’ve tried to slip some exotic and unusual foods on their plates, after all. Which may be the real reason our kids are so reticent to embrace the new and unusual flavors of an area.
But when we realized, after our first two weeks on the road, how often our kids were served the salty fatty side dish, we stopped visiting chain restaurants and started to demand that the kids instead try regional foods in the local eateries of each area we visited. We started to monitor the number of times they were served the same junk foods.
This wasn’t always easy. The kids thought the oysters in Apalachicola, Fla., looked gross, the green chili in Santa Fe, N.M., was way too smokin’ hot, and after going to the fish auction on Oahu they’re not interested in seafood, either.
Still, we’ve found a few unexpected selections my picky kids enjoyed.
Sweet and savory goat. The goat stew in St. Lucia was a surprise. Maybe it’s the fact the kids are part Greek, but the boys couldn’t get enough of it. The flavorful dish relied heavily on bay leaves, garlic, tomato, a wonderful sweetened curry and nutmeg. It must have been simmering for days because the potatoes and carrots burst with flavor, yet the meat was so tender. We probably had that at least three days in a row, but you’ll get no complaints from me.
Eye of dragon. There have been a lot of meals that the kids have refused to eat on sight. And I though for sure when our friend Chef Olelo pa’a Faith Ogawa pulled back the brittle casings of the longan fruit on a recent visit to Hawaii’s Big Island, that our kids wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole. The thing looks like an eyeball! It’s a squishy translucent white round fruit with a visible black seed that looks disturbingly like an iris. No wonder it’s also known as the “dragon eye.”
With the promise of a sweet flavor, my kids tentatively bit into the slimey fruit and loved it. It was succulent and juicy and the kids were allowed to spit out the pit. Iden could spit them the farthest, though everybody had fun trying.
Amphibian delicacy. But the most exotic food our kids tried – and liked – came from a town just about an hour away from home. No, it’s not gator. We’re talking about frog legs in Fellsmere, Fla. The town is home to the Fellsmere Frog Leg Festival where you can have them breaded and fried, seasoned and grilled, broiled, boiled or pickled. The kids thought it tasted like chicken, and eating them grilled off the bone was just like having wings. I can’t really say they loved it or that we’ve ever ordered it again, but they sure like to tell people about it!
As of yet, we haven’t traveled far enough out of the States to be served worms, grubs or centipedes. And to tell you the truth, I’m in no rush. I just know that if they’re made out of gummy candy my kids will have no trouble devouring them. Go figure.