Those of you who have been with DALS for a while might know my theory, based on years of research (read: making dinner) in my personal lab (read: kitchen table), that the key to expanding kids’ palates is to bring them along with you on the weekly food shop. As the theory goes, when they select the pack of pomegranate seeds themselves — or the leeks or the avocadoes — they’ll be more likely to try it all at home.
When I wrote about this in Playbook, I focused mostly on the main grocery store run, the one where you pick up the dishwasher detergent right along with the week’s supply of chicken breasts. But I didn’t spend a lot of time talking the other kind of shopping trip, the ones that, for me, can be as exciting as the North American premiere of Mockingjay. (Countdown: One more week!) Think big food halls like Eataly and the Ferry Building; or small farm markets in parking lots; or, my favorite, ethnic mom-and-pop shops that we are constantly stumbling upon as we make our way around the Tri-State New York metropolitan area. There’s the Middle Eastern place sandwiched between two giant car dealerships in White Plains; the cluster of Latino stores in Port Chester (where, among other things, I procured the ingredients for mole last year); the old-school Italian market in Mamaroneck where prosciutto is pronounced with two syllables and two syllables only; the packed-to-the-gills Asian market where I can find cheap, authentic ingredients for my pad thai or just about anything else I want to cook from Thailand, India, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, or China. I even find myself drawn to the C-Town a few miles away because it has an entire wall devoted to any kind of Mexican cheese my little heart (or little recipe) calls for.
These places are magic for me. And for the kids, wandering their aisles in the middle of a weekend day can feel like a quick trip to another corner of the universe. Adding to the thrill: It is 100% required for them to bring home souvenirs. Last weekend, we stopped by our authentic Asian superstore after my midfielder’s rough loss (my midfielder’s really rough loss) and picked up some noodles for pan-frying, some lemongrass, a bottle of hoisin, and this big bag of pork soup dumplings, which, when simmered in homemade chicken stock and sprinkled with scallions, was just the ticket for the world’s easiest dinner on Monday night.
They were richer than I thought, so each of us only got three or four per bowl. (At that rate, we’ll finish the bag by May.) We rounded out the meal with Andy’s “accidental broccoli,” that I drizzled with citrusy-miso dressing. As the kids on instagram might say: Yassss.