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Parents share how their kids developed a deeper appreciation for unfamiliar foods

1. Introduce different flavour profiles from a young age

I have been asked many times: "How did you train your daughter to be such an adventurous eater?" The truth is, I slowly introduced different flavour profiles to Chiara (aged seven) as soon as she was eating solid food. Mashed vegetables and fruits were never bland: carrots, potatoes, and broccoli were made aromatic with herbs, onions, and garlic. Squash was spiced with cumin or apples with cinnamon. Even now, she doesn't resist healthy dishes, like oatmeal and fresh fruits, or yoghurt with granola.

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While she still is a grade-schooler and eats what most children her age would crave (such as macaroni and cheese or Nutella on toast), she doesn't shy away from trying new things. We discovered her adventurous streak when my husband Matthias and I were enjoying some home-cooked chicken tikka masala one evening; Chiara (still in kindergarten at the time) had her own child-friendly dish. She peeked over at our Indian food and asked, "Can I try that?” Of course we let her have some, and now we know she will eat anything we put on the table: from spicy, olive-oil based pasta with sardines to hearty and pungent European-style stews.

2. Turn food exploration into a game

The only daughter of restaurateur and chef Miguel Vecin (Bar Pintxos/ Txoko) and wife Ria, Mireia should have been a natural foodie. But as it turns out, she was actually a late bloomer, and it took some prodding from her parents for her to become more adventurous with her food choices. "We started training Mireia a bit late, around age nine or 10," Miguel narrates. "We played a game whereby she had to try something new every day before telling us if she liked it or not. This was something we did a lot during lockdown, so we had theme nights for dinner."

The budding entrepreneur (Mireia has a small business selling fidget toys) and content creator (she helps her dad with the cooking videos for their YouTube channel) needed only minimal encouragement and soon developed quite the sophisticated palate. "She's tried sashimi (tuna, salmon, scallop) and likes them," says Vecin. "She also loves lamb curry, steak tartare, and foie gras. Korean food, too, but she can’t handle the spice yet."

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3. Encourage them to try something at least once

Meal-time at the Del Rosario home must be quite the scene, considering all four young ladies are foodies with very distinct preferences. However, mum editor and blogger Georgia Schulze Del Rosario and athlete and businessman Armand have gotten things under control by imposing one rule at the dinner table: "We do not force anyone to eat what they don't like," she says. "But they definitely have to taste it at least once."

Also, everyone eats the same thing. "The children eat whatever is prepared for the adults, and we definitely do not cook per request. That being said, our meals will always have options."

4. Introduce them to the excitement of fine dining

The Tiu brothers don't just have a shared passion for anime, swimming, and playing the piano—they also take after their parents who are certified gourmands. Chef Happy Ongpauco-Tiu shares that ever since the two started eating solids, they were never made to eat baby food. "They eat whatever I cook for us adults." She continues, "My husband and I like to dine out a lot and eat in Michelin-starred restaurants so we take them with us and I always request dégustation menus made especially for them. I think those experiences made them enjoy exploring and eating unique dishes."

When asked what in particular they like, Ongpauco-Tiu exclaims, "Oh, they like everything! They even enjoy molecular gastronomy." It must be a joy to watch them enjoy their favourite Mediterranean mezzes, Spanish tapas, Mexican food, pizzas, pastas ("they can tell if the pasta is not al dente," Happy laughs), Chinese, and Filipino food.

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