How Food Can Teach Kids About World Culture

How food can teach kids world culture

I grew up in a family that traveled the world. My parents moved their ten children (three of whom were born outside the US) to sixteen different homes in seven countries. Today, my siblings live in five states in three countries, on three continents. My upbringing was the perfect way for kids to learn about world culture.

Then there is my family. We live in a quiet town in Massachusetts, and while my daughter Emma was born in Scotland and also lived in England, she was too young when we left to remember either country. My kids know that they have relatives who live in Ukraine and China, as well as across the United States, but – having never been to most of their homes – they don’t really understand what this means. They do have very fond memories of our road trip to Montreal, and that helps – as does making friends whose families come from other countries.

Food helps fill in the gaps. Every time we make a dish from a different country, my kids want to learn more about that country – and, so far at least, they even like the dishes I’ve tried!

Want to try this approach with your kids? Here’s our Swedish pancake recipe to get you started! My parents learned how to make these while they were living in Sweden:

Swedish Pancakes Recipe

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1.25-1.5 cups flour
  • .5 tsp salt

Some recipes call for butter. We just put butter on the pan every other pancake. A spoonful of batter in the ban, thinly spread, makes about an eight-inch-diameter pancake that looks a lot like a French crepe, but tastes a bit different (the main difference for me is that most sweet crepe recipes call for sugar; this doesn’t). We cook ours in a cast-iron pan that looks a lot like this, only a little smaller (purchased in Sweden by my mom, while they were living there). But a regular pan works, and you can even do it on a grill, with a little practice spreading out the (thin) batter – the pancakes may be slightly less circular, but they will taste just as good!

Fill with jam, sugar, cream, ice cream – whatever you would like! You can roll them, but for kids we find it to easier to fold it in fourths. You can also fill these with dinner ingredients (I like ham and cheese), but I have heard that some people then consider this a crepe.

After eating your Swedish pancakes, check out this post about Sweden by Petra, the Swedish friend of one of my in-real-life friends, written for my Exploring Geography series and get a copy of Pippi Longstocking (or any of Astrid Lindgren’s other books) to read to your kids!

I recommend the Around the World in 12 Dishes series at Glittering Muffins for recipes from all around the world – it’s a great resource!

What is your favorite way to bring world culture into your home?


  1. says

    Love this post and this recipe. I’ve often talked about food and things people eat in different countries. Obviously traveling and living in different places has helped but I love the idea using it more pro-actively. Thanks for the inspiration!


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