My children are no more or less picky than any children at the table, and we do our best to encourage them to at least try a little of everything, if only to be polite, even if they don't eat a huge serving. On vacation, in foreign surroundings and in the public eye, they're far more likely to taste new dishes without hesitation. Sometimes, a change of scenery is just the thing to expand the palate.
A plate of turnip greens at home might be met with disdain, or a hesitant, polite smile. But a serving of chicoria at a medieval festival in Montecassiano? Buon appetito! I swear I prepare the greens in a similar way in my American kitchen, but foreign soil makes everything taste better.
I'm pretty sure a dish of sardines offered in our kitchen in South Carolina would be avoided if at all possible, even if it meant skipping dessert. Served seaside in Italy, acciughe are a delightful and amusing treat. To be fair, I rarely arrange any food in the shape of a starfish.
My children are more adventuresome at the table when we're away from home. And we don't even have to go overseas. The first time they tried crab and clams, we were a mere two hours away, on the coast of South Carolina. Part of the reason they're willing to try new things cheerfully when we're out and about is that they don't want to seem immature or rude in front of other people. (This is also an excellent reason to have a constant stream of dinner guests at home.)
They also expect something different on vacation. Every day brings something new, whether at the table or elsewhere. Adventure is adventure, no matter the form it takes.
After they've tried and enjoyed something new on vacation, they're perfectly willing to eat it at home. This isn't always a good thing, because buying truffles for a six year old is cost prohibitive. But I'm glad they've learned that new food can be good and that they should approach it with a positive attitude.
Are you more open minded about trying new things on a trip or do you stick to your favorites? How about your children? Are they easier to please away from home?
(Images: Anne Postic)