How To Make Your Children Eat Adventurously? Tatler Friends Share
I have been asked many times: how did you train your daughter to be such an adventurous eater? With Chiara (seven years old) food has always had flavour. From the time she was fed solid food, I tried to slowly introduce different flavour profiles to her. Mashed vegetables and fruits were never bland— carrots, potatoes, and broccoli were made aromatic with herbs, onion, and garlic. Squash was spiced with cumin, or apples with cinnamon. Until now, she does not resist healthy dishes like a properly-composed bowl of oatmeal and fresh fruits, or yoghurt with granola.
While she still is a grade-schooler and eats what most children her age would crave (such as macaroni and cheese and Nutella on toast), she is not the type to 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, while 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?” We said “of course,” and now we know she can eat anything we put on the table: from spicy, olive-oil based pasta with sardines to hearty and pungent European-style stews.
Dining is always more fun with good company, so we found a few like-minded parents who also have children that enjoy exploring different cuisines.
Robin Magsaysay Matic, age seven
In a brood of four, Robin is the only one that is as adventurous when it comes to food as her mother, Locavore and Kermit Manila co-owner Tin Magsaysay Matic. “I first noticed that her palate was different when she would ask me for bites of my salads at age three,” Tin narrates. “And then started ordering salads with foie gras, or Caesar salad with smoked salmon. She also likes her steak medium-rare.” The spirited little girl also enjoys sashimi and spicy things, like ramen and caldereta that she would spike with sili labuyo.
Tin and husband, Eric, made a conscious effort to have their children try new dishes, but it is ultimately up to their kids if they want to. “It's up to them if they want to try,” Tin explains. “Robin is the most curious. She started trying even when she was little.” Her favourites are ikura, foie gras salad with glazed balsamic dressing, Locavore’s octopus adobo paella, and bistek with lots of red onions. Still, Robin also enjoys all kinds of pasta and noodles, steak, and grilled fish. Tin imparts that they bond over their shared love for paksiw. “That’s why we’re eating buddies,” the proud mom says.
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Mireia de Guzman Vecin, age 11
The only daughter of restauranteur and chef Miguel Vecin (Bar Pintxos/ Txoko) with wife Ria, one would think that Mireia would be a natural foodie. 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 in which she had to try something new every day and she had to tell us if she liked it or not. This was something we did a lot during lockdown, so we had theme nights for dinner cooking dishes from different cuisines.”
The budding entrepreneur (she 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 tried sashimi (tuna, salmon, scallop) and she likes it,” Miguel says. “She also loves lamb curry, steak tartare, and foie gras. Korean food, too, but she can’t handle the spice yet.”
Still, Miguel assures that Mireia will try anything they ask her to try, even if “some things she will like, and some she won’t.” When she’s not making bold choices, Mireia enjoys the comforts of pancit canton, penne al telefono, fried asuhos, and Spam.
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Nadia (16), Sonia (11), Katia (nine), and Irina (four) Schulze Del Rosario
Meal-time at the Del Rosario home must be quite the scene considering all four young ladies are foodies with very distinct preferences. However, mom editor and blogger Georgia Schulze Del Rosario and husband, athlete and businessman Armand, have gotten things under control by having this rule at the dinner table: “We do not force anyone to eat what they don’t like,” she explains. “But they definitely have to taste it at least once.” From the time the girls were capable of eating solid food, they were trained to not be picky and eat what is served. “Everyone eats the same thing,” Georgia says. “Whatever is prepared for the adults, the children eat. Our meals will always have options so they aren’t forced to eat one single dish— there are always choices. And we definitely do not cook per request.”
Collectively, the Del Rosario girls have developed a taste for Spanish jamon and fine cheeses like Saint-Albray, aged Gouda and Boursin. They also love tofu as a meat substitute and enjoy lots of gabi in their sinigang. At the beach, they look forward to the seafood offerings such and daing and fresh crabs. When at home, Georgia likes to infuse some culture through food, mostly from their Filipino and Spanish heritage. “We prepare a lot of Filipino food at home. I mean, who doesn’t want a plate of grilled liempo over steaming white rice with a side of ginataan langka? You will also often find lentejas, croquetas, fabada, and paella on our table.”
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Franchesco (nine), and Nicco (eight) Ongpauco Tiu
The Tiu brothers not only have a shared passion for anime art, 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 would take them with us and I would always request for degustation menus especially made for them. I think those experiences made them enjoy exploring and eating unique dishes.”
When asked what in particular they liked, Happy could only exclaim, “Oh, they like everything! They even enjoy molecular gastronomy.” It must be such a joy to watch these two eat, especially when they’re having 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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