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Saturday, January 11, 2014

What Do Children in Other Countries Eat?

Whooo!

Started a little firestorm there with my last post!

But I maintain that Western culture underestimates our littlest resident's abilities to eat and enjoy a very wide variety of foods and textures and seasonings.  I said it, and I stand by it.

And before we begin, let me say that there are ALWAYS exceptions to every rule.  My goal on this topic is not to condemn or criticize, but to convey information and, hopefully, give people a little, well, food for thought!


To prove my point about how western culture tends to artificially limit children's palates, and to satisfy my own curiosity, I started doing a little research into what other countries feed their youngsters.  I knew my kids were not a large enough sample group for what kids will eat, so I decided to hunt down what international mamas give their children.

The results were VERY interesting. . .and a little surprising!

Denmark


Frikadeller (meatballs) and chopped salads are common, as are open-faced sandwiched made with the quite heavy and flavorful breads, rye and pumpernickel.  Fillings can include: liverwurst, ham, cod roe, frikadeller, mackerel, sweet red cabbage, marinated red beets, and Danish cheese, etc.

Liverwurst, cod roe, and mackerel.  Whodathunk?

Nigeria

A first food from THREE months in Nigeria is called Gbegiri.  It's made with white beans (or black eyed peas, palm oil, and dried fish.

Ethiopia

Injera (a spongy bread made from teff flour) is an Ethiopian staple. . .large and flat, it's often laid out and topped with different types of stews, including doro wat, (a spicy chicken stew) misir wat and kik wat (lentil stews), and shiro wat (chick pea flour stew). Beans, especially lentils and chick peas, are very common, as are tropical fruits such as bananas and mangos. Other foods commonly served are scrambled eggs, rice, collard greens, and pasta.

Sweden

 

Did you know that Sweden is the number one consumer of the world's ketchup (With Australia number two and the US and Canada tying for third)?  Interesting, isn't it?  And the main consumer of Swedish ketchup is, unsurprisingly, kids.  Apparently, they put it on just about everything that isn't nailed down.  They even like macaroni (no cheese!!) with ketchup.  Hmm.

Other favorites include:  Falukorv (Swedish sausage), meat stews, fried fish or fish fingers (fish sticks), mackerel, and meatballs.

India

Not surprisingly, India offers some of the strongest proof that kids really can eat, and enjoy, some vivid, bold, gorgeous flavors!

Khichdi, for example, is a rice-and-lentil-and-meat-and-vegetable dish reminiscent of a spicy, turmeric-yellow rice porridge.  It's not only easy to eat for young kids, but it's also an almost nutritionally self-contained meal, perfect for growing kids! Sometimes, a squeeze of lime and a spoonful of pickled mango are added for an extra burst of flavor.

Other favorites include:  Subzi, which is mixed vegetables sauteed with onions.  The veggies can be everything from okra to fenugreek to bitter gourd and potatoes, etc.  Aloo gobi, a potato and cauliflower curry is also a fav (of mine, too!).


Israel

 

Three kinds of sandwiches, all made on white bread, are the typical luch fare of an Israeli toddler.  The traditional fillings are either salted cottage cheese, olives with butter, or a Nutella-like chocolate spread.

Also popular is a diced salad made from carrots, onions, olives, cucumbers, celery, peppers, and parsley tossed with a dressing of olive oil and lemon juice.  (I think I need to try this!)

Turkey

 

Turkish toddlers adore Sebze Yemeg (a vegetable casserole). Made from whatever is in season (such as spinach, peas, zucchini, artichokes, etc.), it also may include white or brown rice, bulgur (cracked wheat), red lentils, and minced chicken, lamb, or beef.

Other favorites include:  A cucumber/tomato/pepper salad, yogurt, shish kebabs, grape leaves, pureed spinach, and kashar (a cheese similar to a sharp Cheddar).


Korea

 

Also not surprising, Korean food has a bevy of bold and spicy flavors. Toddlers are weaned into the more spicy dishes by beginning with kimchi.  Kimchi is one of my Very. Favorite. Foods.  It's a spicy pickled/fermented garlicky cabbage dish, sometimes with radish and onions, traditionally made by burying the pickled cabbage in ceramic crocks until fermented.  Sounds questionable, but is absolutely wonderful.

Kim Bab, a little nori (seaweed) wrapped rice and vegetable parcel is also a staple.  Spinach, eggs, cucumber, or kimchi are often added as fillers.

Other favorites include:  Nongshim, a brand of spicy noodles often cooked with eggs and onions, and Bibimbab, a concoction of white rice, beef, vegetables, egg, AND generous amounts of chili pepper sauce.

Japan

 

Japanese diets are among the healthiest in the world, as evidenced by their having the longest average life spans. Toddlers are started out by eating what their parents do.  A typical meal consists of egg-flavored rice, broiled fish or seafood, a side dish of lightly cooked seasonal vegetables, and miso soup.

Other favorites include: pickled vegetables, tofu with vegetables, and noodles in a fish broth with vegetables, flavored with soy.


South Africa

 

South Africans are partial to Marmite, a very concentrated and salty yeast spread, and toddlers are started on it young.  Spread in sandwiches and on buttered toast are the most popular ways of eating it.  It's very good for you, but if you haven't tried it yet, it's definitely an acquired taste!

Australia

 

Vegemite (similar to South Africa's Marmite), is also a yeast extract-based sandwich and toast spread. 22 million jars of it are sold a year, which is pretty dang impressive as that is almost exactly one per person. Supposedly, peanut butter, jam, butter, and cheese are often added to soften the strong taste, but I struggle to picture that.  Jam and Vegemite?  Hmmmm. . .

Other favorites include: meat pies, beets (by themselves or in sandwiches), and spaghetti.

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Interesting list, huh?  LOTS of vegetables, pickled items, and spicy stuff.  Strong flavors (Miso, curry, Marmite, etc.) and very similar to adult fare.

Our family has traveled quite a bit and I LOVE to cook 'internationally,' but even though my kids are really great, adventurous eaters, this little research project has inspired me to try to push the envelope out even further!  What about you?

Hmmmmmmm. . . .



(picture courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net and can be found here)



Native Ethiopian foods that are commonly served in the orphanages are injera (a spongy bread made from teff flour) and different types of stews, including doro wat, (a spicy chicken stew) misir wat and kik wat (lentil stews), and shiro wat (chick pea flour stew). Beans, especially lentils and chick peas, are very common, as are tropical fruits such as bananas and mangos. Other foods commonly served in Ethiopian orphanages are scrambled eggs, rice, collard greens, and pasta. - See more at: http://adoptionnutrition.org/nutrition-by-country/ethiopia/#sthash.kwf7NdIl.dpuf
Native Ethiopian foods that are commonly served in the orphanages are injera (a spongy bread made from teff flour) and different types of stews, including doro wat, (a spicy chicken stew) misir wat and kik wat (lentil stews), and shiro wat (chick pea flour stew). Beans, especially lentils and chick peas, are very common, as are tropical fruits such as bananas and mangos. Other foods commonly served in Ethiopian orphanages are scrambled eggs, rice, collard greens, and pasta. - See more at: http://adoptionnutrition.org/nutrition-by-country/ethiopia/#sthash.kwf7NdIl.dpuf
Native Ethiopian foods that are commonly served in the orphanages are injera (a spongy bread made from teff flour) and different types of stews, including doro wat, (a spicy chicken stew) misir wat and kik wat (lentil stews), and shiro wat (chick pea flour stew). Beans, especially lentils and chick peas, are very common, as are tropical fruits such as bananas and mangos. Other foods commonly served in Ethiopian orphanages are scrambled eggs, rice, collard greens, and pasta. - See more at: http://adoptionnutrition.org/nutrition-by-country/ethiopia/#sthash.kwf7NdIl.dpuf
Native Ethiopian foods that are commonly served in the orphanages are injera (a spongy bread made from teff flour) and different types of stews, including doro wat, (a spicy chicken stew) misir wat and kik wat (lentil stews), and shiro wat (chick pea flour stew). Beans, especially lentils and chick peas, are very common, as are tropical fruits such as bananas and mangos. Other foods commonly served in Ethiopian orphanages are scrambled eggs, rice, collard greens, and pasta. - See more at: http://adoptionnutrition.org/nutrition-by-country/ethiopia/#sthash.kwf7NdIl.dpuf

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