That steaming, spicy meal lovingly made by Puerto Rico’s top chef is grandly placed in front of your child’s view. They immediately stick out their tongue and make a face. Does this sound familiar?
Picky eating is often touched upon when talking about traveling with kids (or even some choosy adults!) Some children are fantastic with a little extra flavor, others really struggle with anything not familiar. When planning trips to places that traditionally add more kick and local ingredients to their food, it can be worrisome wondering how the family will react. Of course, you could all stay at the resort and stick to pasta, but what’s the fun in that? Venturing to the breathtaking island of Puerto Rico can be a wonderful opportunity for everyone to expand their horizons and give some local specialties a go. You could even try a food tour so you can make sure you sample a little bit of everything.
Easy on the Introduction
Start at home. If you hope to have your kids gravitate toward the unusual dishes or the extra healthy ones, it’s better if they’ve tried a few new things in a familiar setting first. Why not pull up a few recipes on Google that originated in Puerto Rico. Try creating a dish at home and see how your kiddos react to certain vegetables, proteins, and even drinks. Yes, they might reject some, but oftentimes kids will eat what we put in front of them from the very beginning. With a little positive reinforcement and gentle encouragement, it can lead to great success. If there are a few foods they simply aren’t crazy about, make a mental note and avoid them on your vacation. It will save you from re-ordering or handling grumpy, hungry kids in the future when on the road. Not to mention, it can bring to light certain sensitivities or even allergies your child could have to foods you might not have known about before.
Know Your Puerto Rican Food
Most restaurants in Puerto Rico would be happy to honor your special requests for the kids. Just keep it simple and small. Maybe ask for a little less spice or a bit extra chicken instead of unfamiliar vegetables in a rice plate. Luckily, many dishes throughout the island include staples of beans, rice, and chicken, which are often well-loved by the little crowd. Have them give ‘sopon de pollo’ a try, which is a hot chicken and rice soup. Or perhaps they’d love ‘mofongo’, made of smashed plantains. They’re starchy and taste sort of like potatoes and are often covered with beef or chicken with a mild sauce. Most hotels in San Juan and beyond will have some great kid’s menus – skip the cheeseburgers and have them chow down on something authentic!
Chow Down Yourself
Nothing may convince the kids more to try something new than seeing everyone else enjoy the food around them. It can be tempting to stick to what you know when traveling, but you can be pleasantly surprised trying new foods right alongside your brood. Order some fresh coconut bread pudding, or a side of fried tostones, or plantains, instead of French fries. Enjoying new foods in a fun destination is all part of the adventure!
Let us know if we can help in achieving your travel goals, we love to offer personal tips and advice – ask away. This post was created in partnership with the #HipmunkCityLove project. All opinions are our own and we only promote destinations we’ve experienced first hand (unless it’s on our bucket list!)