Family dinners around the dining room table creates lasting memories, along with strengthening the family bond. One way to add some spice and excitement to family dinners is by having an international dinner night.
International dinners introduce your children to new cultures and food. Many regions use different foods than our norm; cooking these new meals can entice even picky eaters to try a bite. Families can even explore their family heritages. Adding traditional music from the culture and looking at photos from the region can round out an educating experience for your children.
A Fun Recipe to Start
A traditional Irish meal is bangers and mash; this is just sausage and mashed potatoes with some sort of gravy. Some recipes call for a stout gravy, but this is a fun variety using apples in the recipe.
Sausages and Apple Mash
- 2 lbs potatoes
- 8 Cumberland sausages
- 1 onion
- 3 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 cup beef stock
- 2 apples, peeled and diced
- 3 tbsp milk
- ½ tsp of fennel
- Cook the potatoes in boiling, salted water until they are tender. At the same time, cook the sausages in a non-stick pan over medium heat for 15-20 minutes. Be sure to turn them frequently to prevent burning. Remove from pan.
- Add a tbsp of butter and the sliced onions into the pan. Cook until tender then stir in the flour. Add the stock and simmer, creating a sauce.
- In another pan, add a tbsp. of butter with the chopped apples; cook the apples until soft. Drain and mash the potatoes with the last of the butter and the fennel seeds. Fold in the cooked apples and serve with the sausages and gravy.
This recipe is a twist on the classic, Irish dish. To round out the meal, serve Irish soda bread or scones for dessert with a cup of tea for the children and a pint of Guinness for the adults.
Having the International Dinner
This is an easy list of things to do and things not to do when your family decides to have an international family dinner night. The most important thing that you need to do is to have fun and your children will as well.
- Help your children understand the region the food is from.
- Encourage their geography knowledge by showing them the country on a map. You can talk about the big cities and important landmarks as well as the food from the region. For example, if you are studying China, tell your children about the Great Wall of China.
- If possible, you can try to find a children’s book that takes place in the region.
- Cook with traditional spices if possible. Many regions use different spices than we typically use; this will help broaden the experience and add distinct flavors to the dish.
- Don’t make it too complicated
- This needs to be a fun night for the whole family. Pick a simple meal that the children can help cook and relax.
- Play music from the region! Playing music will introduce your children to another culture and add an exciting element to the evening.
- Let the children pick the region. If you own a globe, the children can spin the globe and pick a country with their finger. This will help even the parents grow in knowledge.
Research shows us that eating together as a family is one of the most important things that we can do for our children. Dinner is a reliable way for families to connect. Making an international dinner night tradition will create a time that your family can learn together, while investing in time well spent as a unit.