A different way to dine

A great way to sit together as a family and try something different

A great way to sit together as a family and try something different

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I love sitting for an evening meal with my family. There really is nothing better than just spending time together and talking about ours days, what has happened to us, and lately, what we are eating.

Recently, Reuben has become more interested in what he is eating, and he has decided he really enjoys helping Mummy cook. He comes and talks to me about what I’m doing and asks if ‘Reuben can do it?’ (so cute!). So I came up with an idea that would allow me to do something I love (cooking) and would encourage him to get in the kitchen with me, but to learn about cultures as well as food.

And so, culture night is born!

Culture night in our family is always looked forward to by everyone. We usually do it on a friday as I have plenty of time throughout the day to prepare bits and bobs, and we can usually do crafts throughout the week to build up to it, like colouring in flag place mats and learning the letters in the words.

What I do is write down a variety of different cuisines from around the globe on little pieces of paper and then put he pieces, folded over, into a hat and let Roo choose one. Whichever one he chooses is the cuisine we will be trying out that week. I would recommend if you want to try this out but you only feel confident with a few different cuisines, stick to those ones first and then add to the pile as you get more confident.

I tore up some little bits of paper and let Roo choose one out of a hat

I tore up some little bits of paper and let Roo choose one out of a hat

I make us several different dishes including sides and sometimes desserts depending on what I have made. The photo at the top of the page shows us all tucking into african food (I know that is a very diverse set of food but I didn’t want to limit myself to one region as I didn’t feel quite that confident!). We had several different dishes from various regions and we all, even Toby at 7 months, sampled them. It was great fun!! Roo loved shouting Africa, we had traditional african music in the background which made for a wonderful fun atmosphere. In the run up to the meal I printed off the enlarged flags of the countries whose cuisine we were trying and we coloured them in and used them as place mats.

As you can see from the little ticket Roo is holding above we have done a Middle Eastern culture night, but we have also tried out french, italian (Roo loved rolling the dough for calzones), turkish mezze, japanese (where we discovered Toby loved sushi) and spanish tapas.

Mezze for dinner, simple but great for encouraging children to self serve and try new things

Mezze for dinner, simple but great for encouraging children to self serve and try new things

Rolling sushi for our Japanese themed culture night

Rolling sushi for our Japanese themed culture night

I would really encourage you to give this a go with your family, it is an inexpensive way to interact with your kids and to get them to try out different tastes and textures.

Hope you have lots of fun!

Harriet x

19 Comments

  1. March 21, 2016 / 12:22 pm

    What a fabulous idea, I think I may need to steal this idea from you!! It’s so important to get the little ones to eat a variety of foods and this is the perfect way to do it! x

    • Harriet March 22, 2016 / 11:11 am

      Thanks Steph, do it it is so much fun xx

  2. March 20, 2016 / 8:53 pm

    What an amazing idea! Love this so much. And all the food looks amazing. Will def give this a go with my bunch πŸ™‚

    • Harriet March 21, 2016 / 10:06 am

      Thanks Kate, it is a really fun idea πŸ™‚ H x

  3. March 19, 2016 / 2:37 pm

    What a fabulous idea!!! I think my boys would absolutely love it too. One of their favourite lunches is houmous with prosciutto and olives!! I think this kind of meal prompt would go down really well with them! πŸ™‚

    • Harriet March 21, 2016 / 10:12 am

      Oooh Caro I haven’t tried the boys with houmous! Yummy! H x

  4. March 19, 2016 / 6:29 am

    Oh my gosh Harriet this is one of my favourite things I’ve ever read, I love it! Totally stealing this once we’re a bit more settled down! We first took Toby to a sushi restaurant when he was 2 months old and he adored it, I simply can’t imagine my kids growing up without knowledge and experience of other cultures xx

    • Harriet March 21, 2016 / 10:17 am

      Ahh thanks Hannah! We need to get back to doing it. What I think I’m going to do is start buying the chinese sauce packets, mexican kits etc and then making life easier to do it. We genuinely loved it but I just struggle to have the time to make a full banquet anymore. I think that seems like a good compromise don’t you? H x

  5. March 18, 2016 / 10:11 pm

    Fantastic way to open the taste buds. My eldest (6) is the plainest eater ever. I’d say she’d love to try this!! Great idea!

    • Harriet March 21, 2016 / 10:19 am

      Thanks Kellie – we loved it πŸ™‚ H x

  6. March 17, 2016 / 11:59 pm

    I love sitting round the table and having chats with the little one. I think it’s fab that you’re introducing different cultural dishes at the table. x

    • Harriet March 18, 2016 / 4:13 pm

      Thanks Lori πŸ™‚ H x

  7. March 17, 2016 / 3:03 pm

    This is immense! I have a fussy eater so I doubt I could get away with it, I’d spend a fortune on food and have to throw it away! Where did you get those dipping dishes from? They’re amazing! x

    • Harriet March 18, 2016 / 5:32 pm

      Ahhh I bought them in Turkey when we were on holiday Ally – they are my pride and joy of the dining room haha! H x

  8. March 17, 2016 / 1:30 pm

    This is such a fab idea! My kids would love it and are relatively good at trying new things- we have a motto “it’s good to try”, simple but effective! It’s the husband that’s not so good at ‘trying’ and would probably make his excuses to go out that night as he knows he has to ‘try’ in front of the kids!! I can’t change him, but I’ve trained him πŸ˜‰ xx

    • Harriet March 18, 2016 / 5:33 pm

      Thanks Sonia – yes we’re the same. Reuben was told at school by his teacher that you should try everything at least 7 times before you decide that you don’t like it… it seems to have stuck with him haha! H x

  9. March 17, 2016 / 12:45 pm

    I think this is a fantastic idea to get you to try lots of different things. We may steal this idea for our household ya know! We always sit down together and eat its very important family time.

    • Harriet March 18, 2016 / 5:33 pm

      Oh do – I hope you give it a go πŸ™‚ H x

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