When you think about food, you might consider nutrition, taste, or the energy it provides for children. But food is also a huge part of each unique culture and is an expression of the past. Food can help children learn about other countries and other cultures, help children establish respect for others, and help children foster a better understanding of the world as a whole. A great way to explore culture and bring social studies concepts to life is by teaching children about the ways that people around the world prepare and consume food.
Exploring food from other cultures is exciting and can encourage conversations around this topic. The upcoming Netflix series called Waffles + Mochi debuts on March 16 and will allow kids to do just that! The series features former First Lady Michelle Obama and two adorable characters named Waffles and Mochi. Their exciting journey explores recipes from around the world and encourages discussions on this topic.
When encouraging cooking at home, keep in mind that families may not have access to some of the ingredients needed for this exploration. Luckily, there are organizations that work toward increasing access to fresh ingredients. During the pandemic, The Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) created the COVID-19 Fresh Food Fund to provide access to healthy foods to communities around the United States. The PHA has delivered over 1.7 million servings of fruits and vegetables to those in need. This work increases access to the ingredients that may allow kids to experiment with recipes such as those inspired by Waffles + Mochi.
Exploring New Cultures Through Food
Here are three delicious recipes from around the world that kids can help create! To encourage children to more about the country where each recipe is from, before you make each recipe, you may want to:
- Find the country on a map.
- Search the internet for pictures of landmarks and geographic features of the country.
- Search the internet for children’s music in the language of the country and play the songs while you create each dish.
- Talk about the recipe and its ingredients and ask the children to name anything similar the children may have eaten in the past.
Japanese Rice Balls, traditionally known as Onigiri, are rice balls that contain a filling and are typically wrapped in seaweed, called nori. This kid-friendly version is versatile and allows children to be creative with fillings while learning about Japanese cuisine.
Empanadas are a staple in Brazil and are a pastry that is fried or baked and filled with a multitude of different fillings. Banana Empanada’s have roots in Brazil and are a great recipe to try with kids. Kids can help with mixing the filling, cutting out circles of the dough and filling the empanadas.
Pici is thicker, hand-rolled spaghetti that is typically made using flour and water. This is a fun recipe to tackle with children. They can help roll the pasta strips into worm-like balls. Kids who love working with play dough or clay will like making Pici!
About Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA)
PHA employs its vast convening power, diverse network, and thought leadership to develop and spotlight the top programs and practices with the greatest potential to create positive change in the U.S. food landscape. PHA works with organizations across the supply chain – food producers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers – to improve the nutritional profile of foods and beverages wherever consumers are – resulting in a greater volume of healthier options for all. PHA also collaborates with other non-profit organizations, including food banks, who understand the importance of, not just providing any food to communities in need, but providing the right food to children and families who suffer the most from health disparities caused by lack of access to healthier food options. Learn more at https://www.ahealthieramerica.org/.