Traveling with children involves a lot of food. Sometimes, I feel like all we do is go in search of things to eat. Our children are always hungry. Fortunately we trained ‘em up good and proper to eat anything and everything. Mostly. Rather than deciding afresh every day how to ‘do food’ we developed a few guidelines for own kids.
- Before eating, wash your hands, and then try not to wipe them all over the dirty table, random animals or your own skanky feet. And I do carry alcohol wipey stuff, my children don’t just get dirty, they actively seek out dirt.
- Sit back with your arms off the table when the waiter comes, say thankyou when you are served (Bonus points for using the right language). If the wrong thing is put before you, wait for the waiter to leave, and then switch the plates
- Eat while there’s food, you never know when the next meal might be.
- And don’t be asking me to take you to the toilet as soon as its served!
- Try what you are given.
- If you don’t like something, make diplomatic use of the word ‘interesting’.
- Failing that, point and say ‘look over there!’ and sneak it onto Daddy’s plate.
- Don’t add chili sauce until you’ve tasted the food. Then, if it’s still not hot enough, go ahead with the chili sauce.
- Drinks ( other than water) are a treat, not an entitlement. You may drink up to half your drink when it comes, then you must eat your food before you may have the other half.
- Use your right hand in India, or with Indian food elsewhere, but everywhere else, use your *#%#^* cutlery!!
- By all means, share food and swap tastes, but do not be ridiculously legalistic about size of bites or length of sips!
- Save some white rice in case you eat a whole chili.
- Sit on your chair and talk nicely to eat other, this is not a playground.
- If you get up and walk off, we assume you have finished and will not require any more food until the next meal. Are you sure you are finished?
- No, you may not taste the beer, or the coffee. I know you’ve left school, are backpacking the world, and growing your hair feral, but you should save a few things for adulthood!
- Enjoy the food! Mummy’s cooking will never be this good.
It didn’t take us long to realise that we, as parents, needed guidelines too:
- The most important is to keep everyone drinking heaps of water. We use cool phrases like ‘tank up’ and ‘superhydrate like Bear Grylls’ enjoying the fact that our kids are too young to know about eye-rolling.
- We try to lead by example and eat local, but after three weeks its OK to go and get pizza. It really is.
- Sometimes kids can help choose, or even take $2 and order their own at the market
- Sometimes, Mum and Dad choose, and that’s just the way it goes.
- We always order some veggies, its hard work getting enough veggies in our diet.
- Chopsticks and rice do not go together well when eating take-away on the bed we are later going to sleep on.
- Similarly, we either walk along dodgy footpaths, or drink drinks. Not both at once.
- For the benefit of the budget, we aim for one super-cheap meal a day. A couple of steamed buns each for breakfast, or thosai for lunch, or noodles on the street for dinner
- For the benefit of our health, we eat properly at least once a day; including protein and vegetables
- In Asia, we avoid white bread and margerine, always. No matter how free the ‘included breakfast’
- Be adventurous! Try stuff! But if we are onto a good thing, it’s ok to just keep going back!
- And, with all guidelines, mostly stick to them, most of the time. Relax. Enjoy. Eat!
Eating all manner of foods is one of our favourite parts of traveling together.
Quote of the day comes from Snowy ( holding a whole fish, and pointing at the eyeball)
‘Dad, am I allowed to eat this bit?’