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Thanks to the National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association (NFRA) for making this World Cuisine Wednesday post possible. All comments, opinions and my love for exploring new cultures, tastes, and flavor combinations are my own!
Here’s an idea for assembling a delicious meal while creating fun, teachable moments for the kids at the same time—and it’s easy. We’re calling it World Cuisine Wednesday.
If you’re like me, you might worry about the time it might take to come up with ideas for a meal like this in the middle of the week. Don’t worry. Just do what we did and set a time limit for brainstorming and ambiance prep. The decorations took just 15 minutes, including printing the world maps, as we limited ourselves to interesting objects already in the house.
Next, we selected a few World Cuisine-inspired dishes from the frozen and dairy aisles at the market and our Wednesday meal was transformed into family fun night! It was engagingly educational, too.
Here are some ideas we used to make it more fun:
Pretend you’re on a Trip around the World
Through food, our families teach tradition and history. But just as we appreciate our own Mexican Food, we also enjoy trying new foods and flavors while learning about other cultures. It helps us raise our kids to be citizens of the world. Our moveable feast started in Italy and then headed east on the map. Our rules: When you get to a country represented by a dish on the table, you have to stop and try the dish. The kids used their maps to let us know which dish to try next.
Italy: Pizza and marinated mozzarella balls
We started with Italy and the marinated mozzarella balls. They come ready marinated in olive oil and spice which makes them so convenient. Then we shared a mozzarella and pesto pizza which I chose especially for that fragrant pesto taste. My boys love pesto. I told them about my trip to Italy with two college friends, too. They were particularly interested in hearing about the gelato, Italian ice, and pizza, but now the cheese, too. Strange, right?
The boys compared and contrasted the voices of Pavarotti and Bocceli and were split on their favorite (see music links below).
India: Chicken Vandaloo
Next stop India. I chose this dish since it’s a classic Indian dish, because it has tamarind in it and because I wanted my kids to try something new. The boys enjoyed learning about curry and we even had some tamarind in the house to show them. One of their favorite candies from Mexico is called tamarindo. We could have spent hours talking about India, but we had to get to Thailand. They enjoyed talking about Sanjay’s Super Team, mongooses, cobras and elephants. They also enjoyed the music, especially Bharatha Natyam.
Thailand: Lemongrass Basil Chicken
We loved this lemongrass infused green curry with a blend of garlic, ginger, peppers and spices. Thai food is a family favorite, but we don’t get to have it as much as we might like. I appreciated this dish, and chose it because the price is family friendly.
My older boy noted the music we played from Northern Thailand sounded more like music you might also hear in China and the music from Southern Thailand sounded to him like it had more Indian influences.
China: Egg Rolls
My older boy couldn’t wait to get to China! I chose these egg rolls because that same boy loves vegetable egg rolls and the sweet chili dipping sauce. They are a generous size and crispy! I also like that they have a variety of vegetables inside.
We talked about Kung Fu, Dragon Dancing, Lion Dancing, fireworks, The Great Learning, and writing in Chinese characters. The music was beautiful, too.
Belgium: Belgian custard cream mini éclairs and blueberries
These éclairs are so convenient! I just need to take them out of the freezer 45 minutes before serving and the very creamy filling goes great with the blueberries.
Of course, the boys loved them, and we talked about Belgian chocolate, diamonds, Flanders, Benelux, and the Flemish, French, Dutch and German languages.
Here are the yummy products used for the dishes we tasted:
- Wyman’s of Main Wild Blueberries
- Bon Appetit Mozzarella & Pesto Pizza
- Saffron Road Lemongrass Basil Chicken and Chicken Vindaloo
- Galbani Mozzarella Fresca
- Pagoda Vegetable Egg Rolls
- Delizza Patisserie Belgian Custard Cream Mini-Eclairs
The Traveling Music
What would World Cuisine Wednesday be without music? As the kids figured out which countries to stop at, we played a little music for atmosphere. Here are some ideas:
- Italy: Andrea Bocelli’s version of Funiculì Funiculà or Pavarotti’s version or both
- India: Bangara Dance arranged by Lekha Rathnakumar or Bharatha Natyam
- Thailand: Salaw saw sueng sao mai from North Thailand Musicians
- China: Dragon Dance: Han Shin Chinese Folk Dance Ensemble
- Belgium: The Overture from Le Deux Avares by Belgian André Ernest Modeste Grétry
You’d be amazed what you can find around the house. Dishes, maps, books, globes, passports, fabrics, and crafts. These all make for interesting cultural touchstones to pique your kids’ interest in the wider world. And I think most of us can agree that’s a good thing!
Let your imagination be your guide and put together a night they won’t soon forget—quickly, easily, and conveniently.
Bon voyage! Enjoy!