I grew up traveling around the world, but that’s not the case for my kids. Our family vacations are more likely to be spent in Florida than France. But I still want my kids to get a taste of the world. So I travel with my kids to the dinner table, where we eat foods from countries around the planet, in alphabetical order.
Already, we’ve eaten our way through Albania, Andorra, Australia and Bahrain, to name a few. My kids have munched on flying fish, kangaroo burgers, and Algerian couscous. I’m chronicling our eating adventures on my blog, Eat Planet. Discover the World and, now, here on TravelingMom.com, I’ll be writing the EatPlanetTravelingMom blog.
This desire I have to sample the planet is my birthright. Both my parents were U.S. diplomats and I was fortunate to have spent much of my childhood living overseas in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. When my parents divorced, they often lived in two different countries. My mother and I would be living in Tel Aviv, while my father lived in Prague.
Around the World
As a kid, I spent many hours flying back and forth between Europe and the Middle East. I was an only child who had to learn at a young age how to maneuver through foreign airports. When I was 12 and carrying my favorite stuffed animal, a rather large lion named Ruffles, I almost missed my plane in Rome en route to Germany to meet my father. I learned to flash my diplomatic passport, push my way up to the front of the line, and demand to be boarded.
When I was in college my mother and stepfather were stationed in Rangoon, Burma. I’m certain that I could have won some kind of award for being the college student who traveled the farthest during Christmas and summer vacations. Rangoon proved to be an interesting post where we witnessed pro-democracy demonstrations and the brutal crack down on the demonstrators by the Burmese government. Aung San Suu Kyi rose in popularity and led the pro-democracy movement. In 1991, this courageous woman won the Nobel Peace Prize for her bravery and her refusal to abandon her people.
When my mother and stepfather were stationed in Beijing, I was dating my husband, Kevin. He was a boy from Iowa who had never been outside the country and I took him to China to meet my parents! I traveled to China several times and I fell in love with the history. I read every book about China I could get my hands on and even took college classes on Chinese politics.
Sadly, it was while my parents were in Beijing that my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She and my stepfather immediately moved back to the United States so she could undergo her cancer treatments. It was during this difficult time when my mother and I decided to write a novel together. My mother had cancer and I was pregnant with my first child but we made a great writing team and wrote Hard Sleeper, a murder mystery that takes place in 1930s Peking and Shanghai. My mother passed away shortly after the book was completed.
Eating Mopane Worms
Today Kevin and I have two children, John and Julia, and we live in Toronto. My children have always been open to trying different types of foods. In fact, friends and relatives often comment on how my kids will eat anything, even Botswana mopane worms.
This journey of ours has been enlightening, fun and exhausting. Every week we look forward to the new countries, cultures and cuisines we will experience and learn about. It may not be quite the same as actually going to these places, but I’m convinced that it’s the next best thing.
I hope you’ll join us on our journey to get a taste of our planet, even if you don’t think you’d like mopane worms and kangaroo burgers.