Saturday, 22 March 2014

When Travelling with Kids... Explore a Local Market!

Fresh fruits and vegetables are easy to come by at local markets
wherever you go around the world. These are in Santiago, Chile.
There's only one week until spring break! And goodness knows, after the winter we've had this year... and with spring yet to show its face for more than a brief peek, we need that break! 

In our neck of the woods, many people will be travelling with their families. Some will go to the mountains to play in the last vestiges of snow on the ski slopes. Some will go next door to BC's lower mainland to take in the spring flowers and blooming trees... to catch a glimpse of true spring and to feel like spring is really here on more than just the calendar! Some will simply venture to nearby cities to visit with friends and family. And some will go to far off, heat-packed adventures and destinations.

Markets always have something to distract, something to
intrigue and something to amuse children like these
live crabs in Chiang Dao, Thailand.
Travelling afar is something that really inspires our family. 

It opens our eyes to the ways of the world. It gives us unfamiliar landscapes to explore, new people to meet, unique experiences to share as a family that help us to bond together with an original, shared history, and unusual adventures to undergo. It exposes us to different ways of living this life we are given. And it helps to put our lives in perspective.

We have travelled a lot over the years with our children, and I was amazed this morning when we tallied it up... 14 different countries with our children, spanning four of the six continents. And there has been one common experience, it seems, no matter where we travel... we inevitably wind up at a market.

At first, we saw them as safe and relatively inexpensive (compared to restaurant fare) places to find healthy and nutritious food on the go. When travelling with young children (who were, coincidentally, picky eaters), finding a farmers’ market was a godsend. We always knew we could find wonderful fruits and veggies, breads and cheeses and treats… and things to distract and inspire us too.
The tight lanes that cut through the ramshackle buildings along
Bangkok's Chao Phraya River were packed with market stalls.

To make the most of our market experience, we always travelled with an inexpensive and simple kit. This will all fit in a large sized Ziplock freezer bag. Here are our family’s travel essentials when vacationing with children:

Our Kitchen Travel Kit
The neat thing about travelling is that it exposes you to
incredible variety. You can truly appreciate just how diverse
our world's edible food system truly is. This photo was taken
in Singapore. Who knew there were so many varieties of Durian!?

---> Ziplock bags for packing up market treats, dividing them into portions & keeping them food-safe (I take sandwich-sized and snack-sized bags, held together in a bundle by an elastic)

---> A small portable plastic cutting board for preparing sandwiches, slicing carrot sticks and preparing other food on the go (I use an old Ikea plastic half board for this)

---> A sharp paring knife and protective sleeve (I love my Pampered Chef knife for its thick, light protective sleeve but a pocket knife works well too)

---> A small travel-shampoo-sized bottle of dish soap & a universal sink plug (big, flat & rubber)

---> A sharpie for labeling bags with family members’ names (using goofy names and stick drawings makes it all the more fun)… so you know who hasn’t finished their veggies!
You really get a sense of how important certain food elements
are to a local cuisine, when you see a gigantic sack of
spicy hot, ground chili peppers like this! Walking through a
local market gives you unique insights into the
culinary tastes and preferences of a foreign culture.

---> Portable, reusable shopping bags (Eagle Creek makes awesome ones that fold into themselves, packing away in a very neat, very portable way with a clip that attaches brilliantly to my camera bag, belt loop or purse strap)

---> A cork screw and rubberized expanding bottle top for those adult-beverage market finds (to enjoy once the kids are asleep!)

Portland's Sunday Market had a whimsical booth filled with
hilarious head pieces... bolts, knives, pencils, saws, hammers,
tennis rackets... all made to look like you'd been
bludgeoned through the head! 
Now that our kids are in high school and beyond, we still seek farmers’ markets out, for their food, for their beauty, for their entertainment, for their treats and for that sense of connecting with the community in which we are travelling.

Walking through a market gives you a sense of every day life... of how the people really live. And for me, it never gets “old.”

  • There are new people to meet. 
  • Scrumptious foods to try.
  • New stories to hear. 
  • And there is always that creative thing that startles and surprises me… sometimes with its beauty, sometimes with its creativity, sometimes with its mouthwatering delectability and sometimes with is sheer, creative audacity.--->

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Contributed by Sheri Hendsbee
Thanks to Towne Square Orthodontics who will be sponsoring our market's Sprouts (Kids') Program this year.

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