The world is a big place & eating is the perfect way to take it in.

September 26, 2014

Parmesan dairy visit | One Hungry Mama

The boys at a Parmesan dairy in Italy

I can’t help but end travel week with a few thoughts on why I think travel—near or far, luxe or on a budget, by plane, train or automobile—is so important. And, yes, I realize that the timing for this may seem strange, but I wanted to reflect on travel at a time when you’re not likely to be busy traveling. Hopefully you have time to consider what you want travel to mean for your family before gearing up for the holiday travel season, when travel will mean decisions, logistics, and planning.

Difference is a big concept for little ones. It takes years for young children to understand that not every home is like their own. Friends and neighbors are our children’s first exposure to differences, but imagining diversity on a global scale isn’t something that children can start to do until they are at least 8- or 9-years-old. Travel is an amazing way to help young children picture the world’s many peoples, places, and cultures. It makes difference concrete and relatable, but it can also feel strange. That’s where food comes in.

Food is universal. It connects us all and, even when foreign food feels strange, it’s always a comfort to be fed. The food of another place or culture may be unfamiliar, but the drive to nourish and be nourished is a shared experience that connects us all; it is a reminder that we are more the same than we are different.

New foods not only excite the palate, but they also tell stories of indigenous ingredients, geography, climate. immigration and emigration, and culture. Digging into a meal and the stories that it tells about newly discovered places helps cultivate a cultural respect and curiosity that’s especially important today. And, as exciting as it is when these newly discovered places are far flug, they don’t always have to be.

Meeting new people, being exposed to different cultures and ways of life, and connecting to these new experiences through food can happen around the corner. It’s as easy as connecting with a new family from a different place, discovering a new nook of your neighborhood, or even just going into that Greek food store two towns over that you’ve always ignored. I remember the day that we explored a nearby Polish neighborhood with the hungry boy when he was just a toddler, eating Polish food all along the way. It was a blast and maybe the root of his love of beets!

Before you get swept up in deciding and planning the many places, near and far, that you’ll visit during the upcoming holidays, take a moment to think about how you might use food to connect with another place or culture. Even if you’re just headed to the beach for some R&R, leave the resort and find a restaurant where you can eat like the locals or find a nearby farm stand and chat with a farmer. Connect with the food so that you can more deeply connect with the place. You and your family might learn something interesting and you’ll probably eat better, too!

In the meantime, here are some recipes inspired by my family’s travels, both in and outside of our home city.

Khao Man Gai Thai chicken recipe | One Hungry Mama

Freak-Out Good Chicken (aka Khao Man Gai Thai chicken)
inspired by travels to Portland, OR

 

Pizza with "Fried" Egg | One Hungry Mama

Pizza with Egg
inspired by travels to Rome

 

Mango with Sticky Rice dessert recipe | One Hungry Mama

Mango with Coconut Sticky Rice
inspired by travels to Thailand

 

Chicago-Style Hot Dogs on One Hungry Mama

Chicago Style Hot Dogs
inspired by travels to the Windy City

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