ethnicgroceryYou don’t need to go far to give your kids a taste of the foods of the world. International experiences are tucked away in strip malls throughout America – probably right next to your neighborhood Little Gym. We have an amazing Indian supermarket next to Borders here in Columbus, and in New Jersey, we headed to Edgewater to shop and eat at Mitsuwa, the largest Japanese supermarket in the US, every chance we got.

My kids know better than to protest when I spot an ethnic market. My mother was crazy about antique shops and I am obsessed with unusual foods. I love the shock of stepping out of my minivan and being assaulted by the pungent waft of curry. I squeal with pleasure at the aisles of spices and mysterious fruits, filling my cart with a rainbow of sensations.

To encourage the kids to explore and try new things, I let them pick one item of their choice to take home. The foray in the unfamiliar supermarket turns into a scavenger hunt for the best prize. They particularly love the adorable cookies that can be found in Japanese supermarkets.

So next time you walk past one of these dusty minimarts, step inside. You’ll find a whole new world in your backyard.

When not dragging her children through exotic produce aisles, Vanessa Druckman blogs about cooking and parenting at Chefdruck Musings.