Recently, my husband and I took our six and eight-year-old sons to see The Avengers. In it, Iron Man suggests going out for shawarma, a Middle-Eastern sandwich of spit-roasted meat similar to a gyro. Easily suggestible, I left the movie wanting shawarma, too. (I was not the only one. Apparently, shawarma sales have skyrocketed since The Avengers opened.) We went to Holy Land on Central Avenue where we got the chicken shawarma sandwich, which easily feeds at least two, and an order of fries with their addictive “Lianne” sauce. I was happy to find our boys as willing to eat the shawarma as they were items from the kids menu.
Armed with this success, I decided to try similar food the next time we went out. At Emily’s Lebanese Deli, the kids eagerly gobbled down the chicken kabobs and the kafta burger. At Gardens of Salonica, the kids were so entranced with the gyro I could barely get a bite in edgewise. I was surprised that my formerly picky eaters were now eager consumers of global cuisine. Really, I should have seen this coming, after their enthusiastic devouring of banh mi from the World Street Kitchen truck.
Once I realized we were on a roll, I encouraged the trend. We printed out a world map to take with us when we went to restaurants, and hung a huge world map on the wall at kid level. Now, when we visit a new restaurant with food from a different place, we color in the country on our printout, and put a pin on the map when we get home. With this new system, we’ve cajoled the kids into Thai food at Sen Yai Sen Lek and Japanese food at Obento-Ya.
I have to keep reminding myself that the boys’ new openness will probably pass. Sooner than I’d like, we’ll be back to requests for pizza and burgers. But for now, with our distracting (and educational!) maps, I’m going to ride this wave as far as it takes us.
What are your kids’ favorite world restaurants? Any suggestions for where we should go next?