Like most loving parents, my wife and I take great care in exposing our children to new experiences and in trying to keep their minds open. Culinary enthusiasm is among the few easy things to cultivate and promote, especially in a city such as Montréal [Google translation]. It's also a very simple way to open doors and get to know other cultures.
I'm particularly fond of Mediterranean cuisine and I mean it in a very broad way, starting from Spain (even Portugal), all the way to the Middle-East and coming back to Morocco through Northern Africa. I'm obviously more familiar with certain regions, depending on the importance of their diaspora in my hometown [Google translation]. In one of his recent urban escapades, my son discovered shish taouk by himself, a dish that Montréal's Lebanese community popularized in a very specific fast food version. In fact, it's so popular that les Cowboys Fringants, a Québécois néo-trad band, wrote a musical piece about it. My son and I now share this taste.
Last weekend, an Algerian friend invited us over, and other friends, for dining and wining... well... actually... just dining. Chorba, couscous and orange blossom pastries were on the menu. We were on familiar ground with couscous, but it still was great fun to discover new dishes, especially desserts, and having them served in an authentic manner. Both my young teenagers wholeheartedly honored what they were being offered.
On our way home, my daughter and son observed that other pure laine kids around the table didn't share their enthusiasm for the meal that was served. My wife and I explained that everybody's not so keen on trying new things... that what seems natural for some may not be so for others, and vice versa.
To illustrate our words, we referred to an encounter with an American couple from Northern Vermont we met while waiting in line at one of our favorite Greek brochetteries, Le jardin de Panos. They candidly mentioned that they appreciated Montréal for its abundance of ethnic cuisine and its widely available "bring your own wine" formula. My wife and I pointed out that what was exotic to them, in this case Greek cuisine, was well integrated in our habitual night outs.
Both our kids looked at us with disbelief. "Le jardin de Panos serves Greek cuisine!?" They asked. Our efforts in cultivating their curiosity had obviously given some results.