How to Eat Globally with Your Kids

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I’ll be honest—we eat a lot of chicken nuggets. And French fries. And hamburgers. Pre-children, my husband and I prided ourselves in eating local, diverse cuisines. Roasted goat at Hoyo’s Somali Kitchen? Check. Biang Biang noodles at Jiu Thai Asian Café? Yes, please. Vegetable Mahbarawi at Addis Restaurant? Absolutely.

But having kids made it more difficult for us to explore Columbus’ food scene, and we found ourselves at Raising Cane’s more often than I’d like to admit.

So how do you do it? How do you make the transition from macaroni and cheese to Momo Ghar’s?

Order Food Similar to Something They Already Like

Ethnic cuisine doesn’t have to be intimidating. Start small, like ordering Mandu (pork or vegetable-filled steamed dumplings) and Bulgogi (thinly sliced marinated beef) at Ming-Ga Korean. Or add an extra side of garlic naan (Indian-style bread with fresh garlic) the next time you’re at Aab India. Presenting new foods using familiar words (“Naan is a type of bread”) can help ease the uncertainty. You can also use these mealtime battle tips at home when trying new foods as well.

Choose from several types of naan.

Present Two Options, and Let Them Choose

We all know the power of giving children choice. It gives them a sense of ownership, and they are more likely to respond positively. If you’re craving sushi at Akai Hana, let your child choose between two basic options, such as a California roll or an avocado roll (hint: this will also help avoid the “I want to order an entire sushi boat!” argument.)

Order a vegetarian sushi roll with familiar ingredients.

Visit Somewhere That Has a Blended Menu

Research shows that children may need multiple exposures to food before they try it. If your kiddo isn’t quite ready to dive in yet, head over to A&J Wingburger in Pickerington. They have both American and Korean food on their menu. You can order Bibimbap (vegetables, beef, and rice served in a hot stone pot), and your child can order biscuits and gravy. It really is the best of both worlds!

The bright colors of bibimbap may intrigue your young eater.

Exposing your child to different cuisines can help raise someone who is culturally responsive to the world around him, and Columbus is the perfect city to explore and eat different types of food. We are lucky to live in such a rich, diverse community—now is the time.

And yes, you can still find me ordering a Box combo at Raising Cane’s because, Cane’s Sauce. #onelove

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Martha is a graduate of The Ohio State University and serves as a marketing director for an educational publishing company. A former high school ELA teacher, Martha loves to read—YA fiction, cookbooks, magazines, anything she can get her hands on! She has a two-year-old son who taught her about unlimited patience, unconditional love, and Floorios (Cheerios found on the floor, yet are somehow deemed perfectly fine to eat). Married to Lucas, Martha is in awe of her husband’s selflessness and commitment to be a true partner in all facets of their life together. Martha is great at making lists and cleaning out her inbox; she is terrible at taking breaks and baking cookies. You can find Martha and her family at COSI, Franklin Park Conservatory, or the nearest playground. Other hobbies include cooking and strategy board games.