Bulgogi for Breakfast!? What Kids Eat Around the World

Asian boy eating rice out of a spoon
Photo by Bo Bo / Stocksy

While many children in the United States may subsist largely on Goldfish® crackers and chicken fingers, kids in other countries typically eat the same fare their parents eat. We’re talking fermented cabbage, peppery lentils, and even briny mussels. Exploring new foods and ways of eating (salmon for breakfast in Japan!) is a great way to teach youngsters about other cultures as well as potentially boost the nutrition in their diet.

Don’t give up with the first “No!” Many children naturally tend to have some degree of aversion to trying new foods.  (This culinary reluctance even has a name: food neophobia.) The solution? Demonstrate eating a wide variety of foods yourself and keep trying. Research shows that kids may need to try a new food up to 10 times to determine if they actually like it or truly don’t.

Interested in broadening your child’s culinary horizons? Try these internationally inspired dishes.

Photo by friedmanwd / iStock
Photo by friedmanwd / iStock

Korea

In general, Korean food is all about strong flavors, but served in a balanced way. For instance, bites of “neutral” sticky rice would help kids acclimate to (and learn to love!) a spicy kimchi’s heat or a meat’s bold marinade. Good gateway foods:

  • Sushi-like gimbap (or kimbap): sheets of seaweed paper wrapped around rice mixed with sesame oil, plus colorful fillings like kimchi, carrots, eggs, pickled radish, spinach, cucumber, and ham. Cut them into easy-to-hold slices or try a hand-roll form instead.
  • Bulgogi (BBQ steak) or galbi (BBQ short ribs)—serve it in a taco or burrito for a foodie trend that’s all the rage in cities like Los Angeles and New York.
Photo by Intellistudies / iStock
Photo by Intellistudies / iStock

India

Rice plays a key role in the average Indian toddler’s diet, most often paired with the protein-packed lentil dish called dal. Good gateway foods:

Photo by ziggy_mars / iStock
Photo by ziggy_mars / iStock

France

As Karen Le Billon establishes in French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters, French children generally eat anything put in front of them, from radishes and spinach to mussels and blue cheese. Focus on the “how:”

  • In general, French children eat three meals a day with one afternoon snack—no other snacking.
  • They aren’t required to like everything they are served, but they do have to taste it.
  • They spend more time at the table and meals are a family affair. Food is meant to be a joyful experience!
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