Tiny taste buds on tour: 10 foodie experiences kids will love
What we eat, how we eat it and what we learn about the local culture when we do so is such a key part of the travel experience – and it’s no different when travelling with kids. Admittedly, where most adults are usually happy to try new flavours, it can be more of a challenge to get your little explorers to be more adventurous with what’s on their plate.
From implementing a one-bite rule to creating taste-testing games, there are plenty of tips and tricks to get your kids to just give it a go. But if you’re looking to really engage them in the local gastronomy, why not try turning your foodie experiences into the focal point of your trip or day? Rousing their adventurous spirit will get your little ones itching to try all manner of unusual dishes and exotic spices, will give you a deeper understanding of the culture and may even introduce the adults to something you might otherwise have skipped over.
Not sure your fussy family will go for it? Alongside our mouthwatering mash-up of fun foodie experiences, we’ve also included some first-hand accounts of successful foodie forays from our team of Pathfinders and their adventurous offspring.
Eat like a Ninja in New York City
Not for the faint-hearted, the Ninja New York restaurant merges the world of the Ninja warrior with an equally spectacular traditional Japanese eating experience. There is a replica Ninja village, magicians performing at the tables and various nooks and crannies designed to deter intruders and spark the imaginations of your champs-in-training; and the food is served with a creative flare that’ll turn any culinary complaints to curiosity. It’s a full-on, fully-themed experience and it’s not cheap, but for Ninja lovers it’s definitely lots of fun.
Take a food tour in Rome – Hannah Gruber, age 14
I’ve had many experiences with food from different countries and cultures, but to this day, my favourite is the food tour I took with Eating Italy in the Trastevereneighbourhood of Rome. We visited local restaurants, bakeries, butchers and produce shops all across the neighbourhood, tasting their specialities as we went. I find that food tours are an excellent way to experience a city as you get insights into the local culture and cuisine, plus you get to see the city as you walk around. My favourite thing we ate in Trastevere was suppli, which are small balls of rice similar to arancini, but made with tomato sauce and cheese. My mouth still waters thinking of their cheesy goodness.
Hannah is the daughter of Tamara Gruber who blogs at we3travel.com.
Live off the land with a bush tucker safari in Australia
I’m a Celebrity might have turned the concept of ‘bush tucker’ into a novelty, but few other things will teach you more about the traditions, customs and local cuisine of Australia than a bush tucker tour. Led by an Aboriginal guide, you’ll learn how to hunt and gather from the land and get a first-hand experience of life in the outback. Animal Tracks take small groups into the vast Kakadu National Park on seven-hour safaris that’ll see you foraging for food before cooking up your bush bounty over a sunset campfire. What better way to teach kids about Aboriginal culture and the provenance of food?
Go shopping at a European food market – Evelyn Stoen, age 13
Exploring food markets when travelling is the best way to experience the true tastes and flavours of a destination. In Paris, we waited in line at the Boulevard Raspail Organic Farmer’s Market for really good onion galettes and stayed to eat lunch from the market stalls. In Budapest, everyone in the market seemed to be selling paprika, so we bought lots to take home. My favourite lunch was eating arancini at the Mercato Centrale in Florence; arancini are very Italian and we never see them at home. I love getting to try new foods and learning about cultures at the same time.
Evelyn is the daughter of Eric Stoen who blogs at travelbabbo.com.
Watch chocolate being made in Brussels
We couldn’t create a list of fun foodie experiences for kids and not include something chocolate-related. Belgium is world-renowned for its creamy, scrumptious treats, with Brussels serving as the the heartland. At the Musée du Cacao et du Chocolat, you can learn all about the history of chocolate in Europe (and why it’s good for you – which we like!) before watching pralines being made by their master chocolate maker. Tasting is obviously obligatory.
Take a cooking class in Morocco – Tabby West, age 10
When I went to Morocco we went to a really fun cooking course in a city called Tangier. When we arrived we were greeted by some lovely people and shown the right way to make and pour Moroccan mint tea. We even got to try some! They use a lot of sugar in the tea which makes it very sweet, but luckily I like sweet tea. Next we got onto the cooking, cutting vegetables to start off our meal of vegetarian Moroccan royal couscous.
We made the couscous and a delicious topping which used cinnamon and spices. I loved the taste of it. We also got to make our own bread. It was fun watching it go to the oven, which was in the main town; all the local people use it for their bread too. At the end we tried the food and it was amazing. It’s so cool that we made it by ourselves and I can’t wait to make it at home and impress everyone!
Tabby is the daughter of Nichola West who blogs at globalmouse.com.
Learn all about nutrition in Switzerland
Billing itself as the world’s first food museum, Alimentation (meaning the provision of nourishment) has been teaching people about nutrition and all things edible for 30 years. They like to have fun (spot the gigantic fork on the way in) and put kids front and centre of their approach with educational games, hands-on courses and free entry for accompanying adults.
Sample some street food in Vietnam – Pepper Smith, age 10
I loved our street food walking tour in Hoi An, Vietnam. Ha, our guide, showed us a variety of places to enjoy local food. Sometimes we sat in a restaurant and other times we sat on little chairs in the street. We ate banh mi (a Vietnamese baguette), ice cream, black sesame soup and rice paper rolls. We met one family that had been selling the same rose dumplings for the last 50 years. Ha was very interactive with us and made us laugh the whole time. I would highly recommend it to kids as a way to try new things and learn about a new place.
Piper is the daughter of Bronwyn Smith who blogs at smithsholidayroad.com.
Join a food festival in Foligno, Italy
Held in Umbria in September, Primi d’Italia is a food festival celebrating and teaching people all about the ‘first/pasta course’ and it prides itself on being especially child-friendly. There are pasta-making classes for kids, shows to watch featuring popular children’s TV characters ‘Masha & Orso’ and games to get involved with. Parents can also learn about child nutrition – just brush up on your Italian first.
Enjoy a slice of luxury with afternoon tea in London – Jugra Van Steenbergen, mum of three
To tell the truth, I never thought that an afternoon tea in a luxury hotel in London would be the best idea for a family with three active boys, but under the motto ‘you only live once’ we decided to give it a try. After some research, we set on St Ermin's Hotel which has a special afternoon tea menu for children – and it was a big success. Everything was so nicely presented that the kids didn’t even ask what they were eating. They wanted to try it all! What we liked most about this experience was that it was truly tailored for families with young children. The food was excellent, the prices were very reasonable and there were special little treats for the kids.