All summer long I have been working on a fun project that promotes good nutrition, an interest in geography, and a broader world view. See this map?
It’s hanging in my kitchen. Those little yellow flags represent meals I have cooked from countries around the world. My kids get involved in the selection and preparation of the meals (a tip I have found that works wonders for making children more likely to try something new!) My 10-year-old read the Percy Jackson series and asked for a meal from Greece, so we made Greek salad with homemade Greek dressing. Then she read The Red Pyramid also by Rick Riordan and we made koshary from Egypt.
Many of the recipes we’ve made have been inexpensive, vegetarian, and easy to prepare. We’ve made a broad range of recipes using whole foods and a wide variety of spices, which I believe contributes to good health. From the cookbooks The Best Recipes in the World and Extending the Table: A World Community Cookbook, we’ve made pumpkin soup from Venezuela, scalloped corn from Paraguay, African meatballs from Chad, rutabaga pudding from Norway, red curry from Thailand, and outback damper from Australia, just to name a few. Several of the recipes we pulled from Allrecipes.com for free:
Canada: Firefighter’s Meatloaf
China: Steamed Buns with Barbecue Pork, Egg Rolls (I left out the ground beef and MSG, and baked them not fried, and made this Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce for them)
New Zealand: Pavlova
South Africa: Milk Tart, Yellow Rice
Finally, I couldn’t forget our great state of California: California Rolls (we replaced the imitation crab with shredded carrots)
Not everything has been a huge success, but several of the meals have become family favorites. When a child turns her nose up at a meal, she knows the house rules. You don’t have to eat it, you don’t even have to try it, but if you don’t want it, you make yourself your own dinner. Even the four-year-old can pour herself a bowl of cereal and milk or use the toaster with supervision. Dinnertime should not be a battle — it should be fun!
The kids help locate the country or state on the map and push in the flag pins, often on the capital city. If we have time, we look up pictures from the country on the internet. During the meal, we talk about our travels if we have been there, or daydream about the trips we’d like to take some day.
Want to recreate this project? We bought the map on Amazon.com, mounted it with spray glue to three foam core boards, then framed it with molding from Home Depot. Here are some of the products I used: Giant World MegaMap, Large Wall Map, Non-Laminated 48×77, The Best Recipes in the World cookbook, Extending the Table: A World Community Cookbook, Yellow Rectangle Map Push Pins.
Do you have a favorite world recipe?
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