How to Win with New Flavors

Last year, I was introduced to an African Peanut Soup that dazzled my taste buds and intrigued me. Not only was it a combination of interesting flavors that was so unlike the soups I usually make, the recipe included easily attainable ingredients (like creamy peanut butter) and came together in one pot in under an hour. I couldn’t wait to make it for my family and thought for sure they would love it! With anticipation my kids watched me put it together; their excitement grew with me. When the moment came to enjoy the soup, it was like tires screeching on pavement to a fast stop…they didn’t like the soup. Two spoonfuls in and they were done. Ugh.

Mediterranean Vegetable Stew
Mediterranean Vegetable Stew is another great example of a delicious dish that kids might need to adjust to slowly.

If you have ever had a meal fail for your family then you know how frustrating it is. The planning, cost and effort that goes into a meal means you want it to be (need it to be) accepted and enjoyed. Luckily, my African Peanut Soup story stands out because most of the time the foods I create and the risks I take in the kitchen pay off. Here are some suggestions for helping you be successful too…

Consider the presentation

Ok…so this is where I have to admit I messed up with my soup. See, at the meeting I had a very small portion as part of a bigger meal whereas when I made it for my family I filled their bowls and called it dinner. It was too much soup! I should have served smaller portions of the new soup and balanced out the rest of the dinner with foods I know they like.

Connect it to a food they love

Introduce new flavors by linking them to foods you know your family loves. For example, if your family has had Chinese food but not Thai food then explain how they are similar and different and prepare (or order!) some dishes such as noodles or spring rolls that are alike on both menus.

Link it to a geography lesson

If your kids are into world cultures, geography or National Geographic then they may be excited to try foods from the parts of the world they are studying or interested in. Your kids will likely enjoy a “themed” dinner that connects the food to the part of the world that intrigues them.

Pick the best day

For both your own sanity and to increase the likelihood that your family will enjoy your efforts, choose an evening that doesn’t have you running in different directions. Since trying something new will be a “make or break” moment you want to stack the cards in your favor as much as possible.

Just one taste…please?!

Remember, they don’t need to finish the food…just taste it. Every new taste exposes your family to a different flavor so that they can get used to it, add to their taste “history,” and grow to like it. This gives you something to build upon the next time you want to try a unique dish.

I intend to give my soup another shot. I froze what was left and will serve small portions alongside a slow cooker Moroccan dish that I am confident they will love. By now they have no doubt “forgotten” they didn’t like it.