Once the Coronavirus pandemic started to reach Australia and we had found out about many infections on cruise ships, I took my children out of school a couple of weeks before the Easter school holidays started mainly as a precaution to protect others because I had been in contact with cruise ship visitors coming into my father-in-laws honey shop in town. I wanted to do the right thing and make sure not to spread the virus just in case I was one of those showing no symptoms.
About 10 days into our home schooling journey without much set material, I tried to come up with a way of teaching the kids what I was most passionate about and combining all those things. Travel, geography, language and food.
Because all international travel had been restricted and later on prohibited, I was trying to show the beauty of this world to my children and experience the ‘holiday effect’ from home.
Being from overseas myself and bringing my children up bilingual, we all have a huge interest in other languages naturally. So it was no surprise to them when one morning they got up, I had made a big German breakfast with bread rolls, butter, jam, boiled eggs, orange juice and yoghurt and talked only my mother language. They just went with the flow and asked me trillions of questions while we were eating.
Following on from that, we had a big breakfast of pancakes, crispy bacon and eggs and enjoyed practising funky ways of saying ‘Howdy partner’ trying to copy the American accent.
Many more laughs followed the next day over warm croissants, butter, jam and hot chocolate remembering all the French Wwoofers (Willing Workers On Organic Farms) that had stayed with us in our old home, singing “Frère Jacques” and recounting how many french words the kids still knew. (It was three only, ‘Salut’, ‘Bonjour’ and ‘Ca va’, but not bad for 5 and 7 year olds).
Breakfast number four was from home ground and a popular staple in our household: a nice warm porridge made from Kangaroo Island oats, grown and harvested by our local friends the Morgan’s and topped with fresh fruit and almond milk. We laughed about all the abbreviated slang words Aussies like to use and crowned our family favourite as ‘Choccy biccy’. (even though Dad would argue and choose ‘Accadacca’ over it any day)
So on the 6th of April 2020, I posted a shout-out to all my friends far and wide to get some help:
Hello friends around the globe, my kids and me have had German, Aussie, French and American breakfast the last few days and now they want to eat their way around the world while we’re at home and can’t travel. Can you share your breakfast photos with us please so we can copy it and get to know different cultures? Thank you.
This idea received a lot of great feedback and a whooping 62 picture comments from friends and family as far away as Costa Rica, Malaysia, Samoa, Turkey and the UK. Now the only question remaining was, where to start?
Because ingredients weren’t all that easy to get during this pandemic, and especially rice and flour was not available in our local supermarket for a while, I decided to just make do with what we have in house and wing it a bit.
I showed my children all the brekky pictures on offer and they chose their next ‘experiment’: Breakfast number 5 came from Fiji.
(…) We had a sticky messy start and some serious problem solving after using too much water and having run out of flour. After finding a solution, we watched a travel video about Fiji while I cooked the Babakau. We learned how to say hello in Fijian and how beautiful it is there, what the capital is and how many islands are part of it. The Fijian pancakes (how my daughter called them) were a hit but next time we will have to try the real deal over there (kids are now super keen to go) (…) very fun morning and very filling. Enough food made for 3 mornings! (…)
What my kids ACTUALLY learned, and most importantly still remember through this little exercise, was the following:
- Fiji is an island country in the South Pacific Ocean (we looked it up on a real map, if you have one of those still lying around somewhere – otherwise your local library will).
- Fiji consists of a whooping 333 islands but only 110 of them are permanently inhabited.
- The population of Fiji is 1 million and the capital is called Suva.
- You receive a flower necklace when you arrive there because people are real friendly in Fiji and they do amazing dances and music. The beaches look nearly as good as on Kangaroo Island (quote my son) but they have palm trees everywhere.
- Their language is real easy (quote my daughter) and a few weeks on we still love to say ‘Bula’ (means ‘Hello’) to everyone and can’t actually wait to meet a real Fijian person to try it on. (look out Carlos!)
If YOU would like to try out the delicious Fijian version of a pancake too, please click here for the recipe we used.
Easter Sunday we decided to go to Cypress for breakfast number 6. My mother-in-law lived there for three years as a young child when her father was stationed there with the Navy and it was a real trip down memory lane. As we had all been separately self-isolating for 14 days just two houses apart and not been in contact with anyone else, we decided we should be safe to share this meal together. We had home made crusty bread, grilled haloumi, home made butter, home grown watermelon and olives. The kids learned that Nana used to spit her watermelon seeds just behind her chair over there during each meal and lots of them grew later on which my kids wanted to try out here straight away too. (the difference being they used to eat outside in the Mediterranean)
The next few weeks, the kids were real troopers trying out whatever I put in front of them and whenever I could score some rice, we travelled somewhere to Asia. We had Nasi Lemak (Malaysia – number 7), Silog (Phillipines – number 8) and Gallo Pinto (Costa Rica – number 9, but without the special banana as it was unfortunately not available here). I don’t think my kids were QUITE into the rice breakfasts but they definitely liked learning the different ways of saying ‘Hello’ around the world, from ‘Hola’ (Spanish) to ‘Kamusta’ (Filipino) and ‘hello’ (Malay – what a shocker!).
Breakfasts number 10 and 11 were a big hit with the little ones. We first travelled to Turkey and I greeted them with ‘Selam’, served crusty bread, tomatoes, cucumber, watermelon, jam, butter, fried eggs, bacon and haloumi. This was certainly a breakfast for champions or a big family but we should’ve made the Turks proud. We looked at the beautiful buildings and vast markets that line the streets of every turkish town, learning that some of those mosques had been build by hand entirely over 400 years ago. Numbers tricked us to believe we knew the capital of this country to later found out we were wrong (dare you to look it up!).
So this week we had breakfast in Samoa, and this one was a comfort food, perfect for a rainy day. Koko Alaisa (also called ‘Koko Rice’) is exactly what you think when you hear the name. A delicious but naughty chocolate rice dish that any child would choose over Weetbix on a daily basis but pay for at the dentist later. Definitely one of my kids’ favourites, the Samoan culture fascinated them as much as the Fijian but the language was challenging. ‘Talofa’ seems easy but wait until you learn what the standard answer would be for it or how to continue the conversation.
If you would like to try Koko Rice, click here for the recipe we used.
This trip around the world so far has been very enjoyable – and cheap. It is a great way to pass time during this challenging year while learning about cultures, religions, geography, language and food. And I believe it is also a way of learning the kids will forever remember, using their senses, to see, to taste, to smell, to feel.
Next week we are off to Uganda, Pakistan, Italy and the UK and we would love to hear if you are packing your kitchen suitcase as well to explore this wonderful world of food variety.
Please leave a comment below if you have any other breakfast recommendations for us or would like me to pass on a recipe we used.
Enjoy this time at home with your children if you can until we are all too busy for it again.
Goodbye, Au revoir, Auf Wiedersehen, Paalam, Selamat tinggal, Gule Gule, Moce ni sa moce, Tofa, Adios.