By Aleney & Raffles from Boy Eats World
A reflection on the significance of global food adventures for kids
When my five-year old son, Raffles, asked me, “Mama, do you know what my favourite thing in the world is?” I naturally assumed that it would involve a guitar playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle with a spare Wii controller. But his amazing answer was, and I quote, “Traveling to new places and seeing how other people live!”
While some people have questioned the usefulness of me “dragging my poor kids around the world” I believe that exposing them to other places, faces and things is a gift that will reward them well into their futures. I see the world as my children’s classroom and the people we meet on our travels, their teachers. And it would seem that my son, who has been “dragged” to seventeen different countries, would agree.
Raffles eating snails in New Caledonia
Having just started first grade his surprised teachers often comment on his inability to sit still but also on his imagination, worldliness, communication skills and his empathy. Our friends? Well, they’re more surprised by his unquenchable appetite and his fearlessness when it comes to food.
But to me it’s no surprise. My son has been exposed to the best and worst of humanity. He has seen poverty, poor health and the aftereffects of natural and man-made disasters. He has witnessed bizarre rituals, been exposed to different belief structures and heard wild tales and fables that have captured his imagination. He’s shared simple meals with strangers and eaten in Michelin starred restaurants. And he’s experienced incredible beauty, kindness and generosity. And he wants to see, taste and experience more. I wholeheartedly believe it is our travels that are at the root of the person he is becoming … including the inability to sit still bit. But, rather than me telling you what I think, I’m going to go ask the wee man himself…
What is your favourite thing about traveling?
Raffles: “I love meeting new people and learning about the way they live, especially the food they eat. How they eat helps me understand people better.”
How does food help you understand people?
Raffles: “Well, in some countries people don’t eat much meat because they think it’s not kind, which makes me think they must be nice. Some people eat weird things like bugs and animal guts and that makes me think they are brave. In some places people eat in big groups and share their food which makes me think they love their families. And in some places they eat runny cheese and raw fish and soupy dumplings, which makes me think they are really, really smart.”
BBQ garlic snails on the beach in New Caledonia
Which countries have you liked the best?
That’s a lot of awesome. What have been best your countries to eat in?
“All of them. I like to try new things, even if I don’t always love the taste.”
Tell me about some of your best food adventures?
“Well, my very, very favourite would have to be the Xiao Long Bao (pork soup dumplings) in Shanghai because they are my favourite thing ever and I can eat a million of them. Going to the fish markets in Bali and learning to make Nasi Goreng (Indonesian fried rice) was fun. Ummm, those giant barbecued snails we had on the beach in New Caledonia were awesome. And that truffle hunt we did with the dog… that was super fun. Oh, and eating pizza and ice-cream in Venice. Actually, eating ice-cream anywhere.”
Cooking lessons in Bali
What’s the most unusual thing you’ve eaten?
“Those Mexican crickets, mum. I didn’t like them, but I still want to try to eat a tarantula one day.”
Which people do you remember best?
“The people in Shanghai. They all wanted photos of me and my baby sister and they kept pinching our cheeks and hugging and kissing us. I remember those boys who swam and played with me at the beach in New Caledonia, and my friend at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra because he taught me that everyone should be treated the same – no matter what.”
Where do you want to travel next?
“Japan, Japan and Japan.”
Are you sure?
“Yeeeeessss! I really want to go, mummy. I want to meet real ninjas. And robots. And I want to eat all day long because I love Japanese food best of all.”
What is the most important thing you’ve learned from traveling?
“That everyone and everywhere is awesome no matter what they look like, what they believe in, what they eat, how they speak or who they love. That, and that I can eat more than anyone in the world.”
Raffles and friends – Isle of Pines, New Caledonia
BOYEATSWORLD is all about sharing our experiences as we introduce our son and daughter to a world of customs, culture and cuisine (with a side order of family fun). Whether that be on an international adventure, a local break, or simply by stepping into another culture through food and community right here at home, we’re venturing on a food safari for the pre-school set, to teach our kids one bite at a time, that it really is a small world, after all!