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Travel Around the World in 8 Meals with Your Kids

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A mom and young girl turn around to smile while baking in the kitchen.
Photo Coutesy: Antonia Grant

There’s something special about exploring a new place through local dishes. Whether dining at a Michelin star restaurant or munching on street food, local fare tells you something about a place, its people, and its history. One of the things I missed most about traveling is trying new foods! Can you relate? Early on, we decided that while we can’t go anywhere, we would at least eat well! We’ve been on a mission to try new recipes from around the world in our own kitchen. It has been a unique way to connect as a family, eat great food, and add a little spice to our at-home life. We’ve had so much fun trying new recipes from around the world! As such, we’ve created this menu of global foods for your family to Travel Around the World in 8 Meals without ever leaving your own kitchen! Buon Appetit!

China

A plated mango pudding, one of the featured recipes from around the world, sits on a white plate.
Photo Courtesy: Edith Arteaga-Medina

In China, travelers can expect the food to have a staple, like rice or noodles, paired with a vegetable and protein. Each region of China offers its own unique flavors. Generally, eight styles of Chinese cooking are recognized (although, arguably there are more): Guangdong, Sichuan, Shandong, Fujian, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Hunan, and Anhui. Likely, you’re already familiar with a few of these! For our menu, we’ve selected Chicken Lo Mein. You’ll need a wok, but the ingredient list is attainable at most grocery stores. I also recommend taking your kiddos to a local Asian grocer. Here, you can share more about Chinese cooking with your kids, as well as find more authentic ingredients. Kids will love exploring the different textures of this dish. From crisp vegetables to stir-fried noodles, each bite is delicious! Parents can pair this tasty dish with a Sauvignon Blanc. Finally, prepare this richly-flavored Mango Pudding for dessert. 

What Our Family Chef’s Say

“Making the pudding was fun. I used frozen mangoes and full fat coconut milk. I switched sugar for Monk fruit.l sweetener. The final texture was creamier than I expected. I would recommend use the blender for mixing the milk so you can dissolve the solid pieces of coconut fat. You can try using low fat coconut milk and more gelatin for a different texture.”

Edith Arteaga-Medina

Mexico

If you’ve traveled to Mexico, you know how simply, yet divinely, flavors are combined. When trying new recipes from around the world, Mexican cuisine is a great place to start. Many recipes can be deconstructed and served in a “build your own” style. This is ideal for young kids new to exploring foods. Chiles en Nogada is a unique dish that celebrates the best of Mexican cuisine, and beautifully highlights the colors of the Mexican flag (red, white, and green). Made with poblano peppers and beef or pork, this dish is as delicious as it is stunning. Involve your kids in the process by encouraging them to garnish the plate with parsley and pomegranate seeds! Pair it with rosé wine. Then, continue the play on Mexican colors by creating these red, white, and green paletas (popsicles). Kids will love creating these bright and refreshing desserts for the family!

What Our Family Chef’s Say

“This paletas are so good and this recipe is perfect for combining your favorite flavors. I used very ripe green kiwis and little Monk fruit sweetener instead of cane sugar for the green layer. The flavor of the white layer is “horchata”, a Mexican drink made of raw rice, vanilla, cinnamon and sugar. I added a little bit of chia for texture. The red layer is made of frozen strawberries, Monk fruit and little lime juice.”

Edith Arteaga-Medina

Switzerland

Ready to try more recipes from around the world with your family? Let’s go to Switzerland! Known for tasty foods like raclette, chocolate, and fondue, Switzerland offers many fun recipes for parents and kids to create together. This Classic Swiss Cheese Fondue is an exciting family meal idea. The best part? You can absolutely make this meal to taste! Love garlic? Add a bit more! Have day-old bread on hand? That’s a perfect dipping option, as are apples, pears, and Brussel sprouts. Caution, as the cheese is hot and can get stringy, but kids will delight in dipping their preferred morsels into the pot. In fact, fondue is a great way to get kids to eat their vegetables! Parents, pair this scrumptious meal with a glass of Chenin blanc, Riesling, or a Beaujolais. Afterward, enjoy this silky Chocolate Cream Dessert. Kids can decorate each dessert with whipped cream designs!

What Our Family Chef’s Say

“Each of my kids loved it and said that it was one of their favorite meals! We tried a little bit of everything for dipping into the cheese fondue… traditional bread, baguettes, peppers, apples, pears, pretzels, chips, soft pretzel bites, tomatoes, potatoes, little beef sausages, and even pickles (which were amazingly my favorite!).”

– Chelsey Knealing

India

A young boy stirs a bowl of Indian spices to make chicken tikka masala, one of the featured recipes from around the world.
Photo Courtesy: Amanda Donnelly

Families can add a little spice to their life by cooking with Indian flavors. Chock-full of spices, including cardamom, clove, anise, and coriander, Indian cuisine is sure to please. Travel from home to India by cooking Chicken Tikka Masala from your own kitchen (video version here). Recommended by Families Love Travel’s very own Gunjan Prakash, this dish is straightforward to make. It is even better when the chicken has time to marinated overnight. Serve with rice and naan. Plus, the spice level can be adapted, as desired, or per family tastes. Chicken tikka masala is best paired with a deep colored rosé wine or a sparkling rosé. Let kids sniff each spice before adding and ask them what they think. This is a great way to spark conversations with kids when making food from around the world! Finish dinner with this easy and tasty Fruit Custard!

What Our Family Chef’s Say

“It was fairly easy to make and the prep was very kid friendly. The chicken tastes much better after marinading so make sure you have time to let it sit and soak up the marinade before cooking! My son loved measuring out each spice and was able to help with a lot of the prep work. After cooking in the oven, I kept some of the chicken separate for my son to eat since the sauce has most of the heat in it – he loved it with rice! This will definitely be part of our regular recipe rotation in the future.”

– Amanda Donnelly

Ethiopia

A teen boy stirs a pan of Ethopian saga tibs, one of the featured recipes from around the world.
Photo Courtesy: Angie Reedy

Continuing our journey of trying recipes from around the world, let’s head to Ethiopia. This African country is known for its use of spicy meats, vegetables, and traditional injera. A giant grey spongy, fermented flatbread, injera is used as a vessel for eating many of Ethiopia’s tasty dishes. Start your Ethiopian meal with Saga Tibs, a spicy stir fry dish. In this dish, you’ll use a berbere spice mix; very common in Ethiopian cooking. You should be able to find it in your grocery store, but if not you can mix your own! Additionally, if you can’t find injera locally, you can choose to serve Saga Tibs with rice instead. Add Ye’abesha Gomen, or Ethiopian greens, for a quick, yet flavorful side. End your meal with an Ethiopian coffee ceremony and popcorn. It is very traditional to serve popcorn with the coffee ceremony. Kids will love it!

What Our Family Chef’s Say

“My parents lived in Ethiopia for 15 years, so we have spent a bit of time there over the years. Two of my three kids have spent several weeks in Ethiopia, so we are fairly familiar with the culture and many traditions. However, I unintentionally happened to have our Ethiopian dinner on an Ethiopian religious holiday, Timkat. To celebrate, people who are Orthodox will dress in their fine traditional clothes and parade with the Ark of the Covenant replica through the town. They will go to the nearest body of water and spend the night. It was fun to have the context to talk about this holiday with my kids!”

– Angie Reedy

Indigenous Recipes from the United States

Two teenagers smile while eating indigenous cookies from the United States, one of the featured recipes from around the world.
Photo Courtesy: Nicole Ross Peirce

Likely, you know a lot about traditional “American foods” like hamburgers and hotdogs. However, not many people know about America’s indigenous foods. In fact, there is a growing community of native chefs who are showcasing Indigenous American cuisine by sharing recipes and opening restaurants across the country. Sean Sherman, the founder of the Sioux Chef, is a notable example of this revival and preservation of indigenous foods. Travel From Home to the United States by creating some of these dishes with your kids! First cook up some Bison Meatballs with Wild Rice With Root Vegetables, both recipes created by native chef, Elena Terry. Kids can help you scoop and roll the meatballs. They are sure to love being part of the cooking process! This meal pairs well with a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Pinot Noir. Then, end your family dinner with Elderflower and Lemon Balm Sugar Cookies (gluten and dairy-free). 

What Our Family Chef’s Say

“Our family enjoyed the bison meatballs & wild rice with root vegetables Native American recipes. Being a third-grade teacher, I teach about Native American cultures – I wanted to make these recipes so I could talk about my experience with my students. Being from an Italian family, I’m no stranger to making meatballs. I looked at the recipe with skepticism – rice and cranberries in meatballs??? I enjoyed the convenience of using similar ingredients in both recipes – they paired so well. The recipe warned of the meatballs drying out easily, which I did not find. The meatballs were awesome! They were juicy and flavorful, a perfect blend of savory and sweet.

My daughter is a recent vegetarian and I wanted to find a way to make the meatballs using ingredients that worked for her (instead of subbing a pre-made veggie meatball). I made the mixture in the meatball recipe with all ingredients except the bison. In place of the bison, I added breadcrumbs and an egg and rolled them into a meatball shape, and lightly fried them in the pan that I sautéed the tomato paste & onions. They came out tasty with a similar flavor profile to our meat-filled version.”

– Nicole Ross Peirce

Argentina

A mom and son both bite into Argintine cookies, one of the featured recipes from around the world, while looking at eachother.
Photo Courtesy: Alison Netzer

Looking for a South American family meal idea? Join me in Argentina! Argentine fare tends to be heavily informed by European flavors due to a long history of European influence and colonization, as well as having many regional variations. Of course, Argentina is well known for Asado (similar to BBQ), chimichurri, empanadas, and Malbec. Your family will love making Carré de cerdo, a rack of ribs with hints of apricot and orange. Plan ahead, however, as the pork takes time to marinate. Have kids help you mix the marinade. Remember to have them smell each ingredient and share their thoughts. Don’t be afraid to get messy as you bite into these delicious ribs. Pair this meal with one of Argentina’s famous Malbecs! End your evening on a sweet note with Traditional Alfajores, or sweet caramel sandwich cookies. Kids will love rolling the cookies in toasted coconut for the final touch!

What Our Family Chef’s Say

“Our family loves exploring new cuisines, cooking, and being around the table together. Given the opportunity to make a traditional South American cookie, Alfajores, we took on the challenge head-on. This dessert is not a simple make the dough and cook it type cookie. Alfajores has many steps and the entire process can take up to two hours. Alfajores are sandwich cookies consisting of a flaky cookie with a rich dulce de leche filling and the edges rolled in toasted coconut. The best part was eating the finished cookie and reminiscing about our trip to Peru last winter.”

– Alison Pennock Netzer

Russia

Our last set of recipes from around the world come from Russia! Russian cuisine tends to be on the heavy side and has been greatly influenced by the difficult years under Soviet rule. Russian food is also very diverse given its unique ties to both Europe and Asia. Fish, mushrooms, berries, and grains are common in Russian cooking. Additionally, you may be surprised to learn that many Russian foods include sour cream and mayo! Travel from home to Russia by making Borscht with kids. Perhaps one of Russia’s most iconic dishes, borscht is a soup made of beets, cabbage, potatoes, and beef, among other tasty ingredients. Borscht pairs well with a Riesling or a Cabernet Sauvignon. Afterward, enjoy a Sharlotka, or Russian apple pie (this recipe works too, and readers may find it more complete). This simple bake is filled to the brim with apples and has an egg-forward taste. 

What Our Family Chef’s Say

“Flavor is good, but it’s dense and eggier in the middle. I think an extra cup of flour and either a little water or vegetable oil would lighten it up. But it definitely feels Russian to me! My 3.5-year-old is into it so that’s a win!”

Alison Rosen

Happy Eating!

A young girl and her mom make silly faces as they sit next to a plated apple shartlota.
Photo Coutesy: Antonia Grant

I hope you enjoyed learning about a few global foods – and that you try one or two of these recipes from around the world! Cooking and eating together is a great way to build family memories. Making food from around the world in your own home is a unique family meal idea and a way to celebrate your love of travel. Plus, it can be a great way to prepare little palates for future travels. From China to Ethiopia to Mexico, there is a lot to love about eating your way around the world. Not to mention, a very tasty way to travel from home No matter which recipes you choose, families will love adding a bit of zest to family dinners through these scrumptious recipes. 

Thank You to Our Community!

A slice of apple sharlotka sits near the rest of the cake on a cake stand surrounded by green apples.
Photo Coutesy: Antonia Grant
Sharlotka

Finally, I would be remiss without thanking several members of the Families Who Love To Travel community who generously and enthusiastically accepted my mission to make these recipes with their families. Thank you Edith Arteaga-Medina, Chelsey Knealing, Alison Rosen, Alison Pennock Netzer, Nicole Ross Peirce, Angie Reedy, and Amanda Donnelly. Your time, wonderful stories, amazing family pictures, and encouragement mean a great deal to me! I was blown away by your response and enthusiasm for this article. Thank you for your time and continued support of my writing, as well as to the Families Love Travel community and online magazine!

Written by FLT Contributor Antonia Grant. Read about Antonia’s other adventures through these articles, or find her on Instagram @knead.to.roam, where she continues to try and share recipes from around the world!

A note from the author: My aim in creating this list of recipes from around the world was to find authentic recipes that were also accessible to make with American grocers and kitchens. Some recipes were written by natives of the country, while others have been written for American audiences. I took great care in selecting the recipes and hope that you find them interesting and delicious. These recipes from around the world have also been tested by several members of the Families Who Love To Travel community, including my family!

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Antonia Grant

Antonia Grant Writer Antonia Grant is a life-long learner and avid traveler. She loves equipping families with the tools and confidence they need to travel together. That is a major reason she is part of our fantastic team at Families Love Travel! Antonia is also a strong believer in the beauty of multigenerational travel. Her main travel buddies are her husband and young daughter. They have been traveling as a family since her daughter was 7 months old, and internationally since 13 months old! By day she works at Carleton College, by night she writes and edits for Families Love Travel. She’s always seeking new adventures to write about and share.
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