Monday, September 15, 2014

P is for Plátano: Discovering New Foods

Hispanic Heritage Month: Exploring Different Cultures Through Food


Food, books, music and language are the primary ways we enjoy learning about the world as a family. In April, we traveled to the Dominican Republic, where my husband's mother was from, for a family wedding. 

My boys can be picky eaters, so one of the things I worried about the most was that they would turn their nose up at local food and not respect that their relatives were cooking food for them and learn about another culture through food.

Much to my surprise, they both gobbled Arroz con Pollo (Chicken and Rice), fish straight from the ocean and cooked up beachside and served with fried dough, Dominican salami and eggs for breakfast, and plátanos (plantains) -- both served up as tostones (crispy fried plantains) and fried sweet plantains. Of course, they also ate chicken nuggets and pizza while we were there! 



Learning about plátanos/plantains is a great way to explore Hispanic culture. Plátanos are from India and the Caribbean. Discussing the origin of the fruit allows children to learn about the rich diversity of the Caribbean. Often, especially in Southern California, the focus on Hispanic culture and heritage centers on Mexico and Central America, but there is a rich Hispanic history in the Caribbean because of Christopher Columbus and the many other Spanish Explorers who colonized the islands. (We saw family home of Columbus when we were in Santo Domingo). 

When the boys first saw plantains, they immediately assumed they were bananas -- and they are right! They are both in the banana family and are just different varieties, like apples. Comparing them to apples that come in many varieties made this easier for the boys to understand. A fun activity is to look, touch and taste both plantains and bananas and compare how they are alike and how they are different, and to explore how differently each are prepared and eaten. For children who are old enough, it could be fun to make a chart and write the differences and similarities side by side. It's fun to also map your fruits and vegetables, including your bananas and plantains like Kids World Citizen did here.  

We can find plantains at all of our groceries stores, probably because we live in Southern California, but if you do not see it at your local grocery store, see if there is a Hispanic grocery store or market in your town/city and look there. 

Do you explore cultures and world geography through food? If so, what have been some of your favorite recipes and/or food learning experiences? 

Please tell me how you explore different cultures, and please enjoy the Third Annual Hispanic Heritage Blog Hop hosted by Multicultural Kid Blogs including an amazing giveaway that you won't want to miss! I'm linking this post to this awesome blog hop! Also sharing at the After-School Linky

Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 to October 15 every year, “celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America” (from HispanicHeritageMonth.gov)

You might also like: 

Favorite Bilingual Picture Books
Tot School/PreK Learning Game
Discovering Diego Rivera


6 comments:

  1. Pinned and shared on G+ as well as Paving the Way group. I hope that you can continue to spread your wings and share from the heart. Stay encouraged! =)

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  2. Oh we love Plátanos and South American food! My father in-law was from Venezuela so I guess we have a craving for South American food. Now I'm making myself hungry!

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  3. I looooove plantains and finally my kids do too:). It took several tries because they kept comparing them to bananas:). Besides being delicious, they are good for you- fiber, and lots of potassium too!

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  4. Platános are definitely a staple in Puerto Rican cuisine! I love mofongo and amarillos (ripe plantains). It's nice to see a post about plantains. Thank you!

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  5. We love platoons! Great recommendation to compare them to apple varieties to help kids understand the difference from the bananas we usually eat.

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  6. It's always tricky to travel with kids, so that's great that they tried so many new foods! And yes, in California there is not much emphasis on other Latin American cultures, so thanks for this post!

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