multiculturalism in food with ben

One of the things I’m proud of both us and Ben for, is that we do take Ben out to eat foods from different parts of the world. Part of that is because we don’t have the bland chain restaurants that might be a default for us if we did live in a different city. Most of it, however, is that Paul and I both like a lot of food from other cultures. We don’t want to be limited to eating the same things over and over, and especially not when we live in a city like L.A. where we can be taking advantage of all the different food available to us. And we’ve found that if we just go out and take Ben to a restaurant, he’ll try the food, and probably find something familiar enough to him that he’ll eat it.

Ben is, therefore, used to eating a lot of different foods. This makes going out to eat more fun for all of us. I remember despairing when I was pregnant, thinking I wouldn’t be able to go out to “normal” restaurants with a small child every again, and that I would be stuck with burgers, pizza and hot dogs. Well, we still can’t go out to super-nice restaurants, but we can definitely go out to anything where entress are in the $15-or-less range. And if we go earlier in the evening, it’s even better, because restaurant staff are much more tolerant of a two year old when the place is half empty.

Some of the cultures we’ve fed Ben foods from include:

Japanese
This is actually a standby for us. Ben is just fine with Japanese food. He loves edamame, to start with, and also likes to slurp down a bowl of miso soup with tofu. He also happily shares in Paul’s chicken teriyaki or udon noodles. But Ben also likes avocado, so we translated that into avocado and California rolls. We can usually get him to eat most of a sushi roll now. I’m not giving him raw fish, because he is too small to fight off a parasite or any dangerous bacteria if it’s not 100% safe. That’s fine for me to risk, but not my baby, and he’s just fine with that anyways. Ben is also working on learning to use chopsticks, and is DETERMINED to be able to eat with them.

Vietnamese
Ben is just fine eating spring rolls as a standby. We have also managed to feed him small amounts of pho…but it means cutting up the noodles and teaching him to slurp out of a big spoon. The noodle cutting and Ben’s lack of dexterity with chopsticks is the big hurdle here, not the food itself. We look forward to his hands getting big enough for him to eat long noodles by himself.

Middle Eastern
One of Ben’s favorite foods is hummus and pita. This has not yet extended to falafel, but he’ll make a meal out of hummus and possibly some rice, meat, and green peppers if they’re available. He will also eat kibbeh.

Mexican
Mention “burrito” to Ben and he will demand he get to eat one. We have also been able to get him to eat street tacos, but sometimes, he’s just not in the mood for it.

South Asian
This is actually a bit trickier. Ben will eat tandoori chicken and rice, but that’s about it for Indian. Thai, we haven’t even really tried yet. Too spicy, even for our spice-loving little boy.

Ethiopian
We tried this for the first time yesterday, and Ben liked the injera bread. He also seemed to really like some of the spices used in the green beans and lentil stew. We will have to try this one again in the future to see how much he will eat once he’s more familiar with the food.

We do still take Ben out to American restaurants. But he’s just as likely to eat whatever it is in front of him at a Sushi Go 55 as he is at a Bob Evans. (And at Sushi Go 55, we had the added bonus of elderly Japanese ladies thinking that our little boy is adorable for trying to get his sushi in his mouth using his chopsticks). And since I am a big sushi fan, I’m very happy with that. Next stops on the food tour of L.A. for Ben will probably include some Korean BBQ, or some pad thai, or possibly dim sum. As long as we live in L.A., and we’re lucky enough to have so many cultures to choose a dining experience from, we’ll try to make sure our tiny boy gets to go to as many as possible. I look forward to him being a total food snob about it when he gets to his twenties, too.

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