Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Meals That Changed It All

Big C&G used to be a picky eater, which as you can imagine is not a good personality trait in a world traveler. The four major food groups of hot dogs, pizza, mac & cheese, and french fries don't really exist outside the borders of the US.

After booking our tickets to Scandinavia for the summer of 2011, I immediately had a panic attack over what on earth would we feed our kids on our two week adventure. Little Scandinavian children always look like the picture perfect visions of health, with their ruddy cheeks, bright eyes, and luminous skin. No doubt from their abundant diet of fresh from the arctic ocean seafood and antioxidant rich fruits like lingonberries. None of which would fly with our little C&Gs. Oddly, smoked salmon is a favorite of both boys, but any other kind of fish will not pass their lips voluntarily. Thank goodness for Mexico.

In March of 2011 were on our annual vacation in Mexico with Ammah C&G (my Mom) and BBC&G (my amazing Grandmother) when Big C&G decided to venture out of his very narrow comfort zone. Maybe he was getting tired of cheese quesadillas, or it could have been the mariachi band and the sombrero. Big C&G leaned over to Ammah C&G and asked to try some steak off her fajita plate. We were all shocked, but probably not as shocked as he was when he discovered he liked it. It was as if he realized what he'd been missing for the past eight years of his life, and he's been an adventurous eater ever since. Hard to believe my little Big C&G has branched out to octopus, prosciutto, and caesar salad.

Fast forward to our summer in Scandinavia, and the meal that Big C&G still talks about. We found the small bistro P.A. & Co tucked away on a hidden street in the Gamla Stan neighborhood of Stockholm, far from the usual tourist crowds. We were the only non-Swedes in the restaurant, with the exception of a German couple trying to order in their limited English.

Menus weren't in available in English, and Big C&G decided he liked the sound of the dish "Skomakarl├ąda". We were all shocked, but he was game to try something unknown. And you can tell from the smile on his face he absolutely loved it. Steak, smothered in leeks and bacon, what's not to love! Mr. C&G looks at the ready with his fork, but I'm pretty sure he barely got a bite before Big C&G gobbled the whole thing up.

I think when you take your kids out of their comfort zone and there are limited choices, they will truly surprise you. It make take a few times of trying, and Stockholm was the second city on our vacation, but Big C&G has been much more open minded ever since. At some point they realize they need to be more flexible, and nowhere is that more apparent than when they're confronted with a menu full of strange things and a rumbling tummy. Big C&G is happy to try anything you put in front of him and I no longer worry about finding something he'll eat on a foreign menu.

We've still got a bit of a challenge with our Italian child, Little C&G. He rarely ventures beyond pasta, but he's now the same age Big C&G was when he had his food epiphany. With Italy not on our agenda anytime soon, we have big hopes for him branching out this summer. No pressure little one. . .

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