Take Your Family On A Culinary Vacation

Enjoy The Benefits Of A Vacation From The Comfort of Your Own Home!

By Courtney Daly-Pavone December 18, 2020

*This article is a 4 minute read.

Have Your Holiday Plans Been Cancelled? 

Try A Culinary Vacation!

My family loves food and travel. Last spring we took virtual vacations, traveling to: Maine, Louisiana, Philadelphia, Hawaii, and New Zealand. Each destination we cooked local cuisine, painted a landmark destination, and watched films set in that place. It was a fun way to pass the time. 

Try This Latest Version: Virtual Vacation 2.0 -The Culinary Vacation!

California's latest stay at home order prompted a reboot of virtual vacations! 

It's a culinary vacation, because let's face it, food is what drew me to Hawaii for a Luau, Philly for a Cheesesteak, New Zealand for a Kiwi Burger, and New Orleans for Gumbo

What Is A Culinary Vacation?

It consists of reading about a place, creating at least one dish from that destination from scratch, listening to authentic music, watching a documentary about it, or a film set in that location. You can also learn a few phrase words, add on an arts and crafts activity, or a traditional game from that destination as well. 

What You Learn Will Surprise You!

1st Stop Germany

If virtual vacations were fun, the reboot was enlightening. We started our trip in Germany for a Bavarian Christmas where we dined on German Chicken with Red Cabbage, Pork Schnitzel, Pork Tenderloin with Apples, and a Bratwurst Campfire dish. 

In Germany, I kept thinking about my parents. They liked to eat at a German restaurant on special occasions. My dad loved to have a side of red cabbage, and sauerkraut with his meals. My parents are no longer here, so this experience brought me a little closer to them. 

Germany is a landlocked country, so most of the dishes are meat and root vegetables. It was fascinating to learn how Germans get creative with a limited amount of resources. They infused apples with cabbages and bacon to create a sweet and salty dish.

Stop 2 Poland

I made classic Polish Stuffed Cabbage. I was afraid I was going to fail on this one. You mean you don't cook the ground beef before stuffing the cabbage? I didn't want to end up in the ER this Christmas. Well surprise the raw meat cooked inside the cabbage, and my family loved it. Even my husband who is Italian and a food snob, had seconds. We made Stuffed Peppers the following night with our leftover stuffing from the cabbage. 

We created Polish Paper Crafts, and watched Rick Steve's Poland. I found an old Chopin CD, and there was harmony in my house, good food in the oven, and my child wasn't staring at a sceen, but focused on creating art. It was a good day in Krakow!

Stop 3 Hungary

We made Hungarian Ghoulash in Hungary. It was hearty, a lot like Beef Stew, but with caraway seeds and paprika, something used heavily in Eastern Europe giving this classic soup new flair. It was easy to make (kids can help make this one) in my slow cooker, again plenty of leftovers. We read a little bit about the history of Hungary, and we watched an episode of Rick Steeve's Europe Hungary

Stop 4 Russia

We traveled to Russia for Beef Stroganoff and Borscht Soup. We watched Dr. Zhivago and Disney's Anastasia.

What We Learned

You live in the moment with every meal. Experiencing new flavors, eating vegetables we rarely eat like cabbage! We learned about the tapestry of culture that exists in Eastern Europe. Now we want to go there when the travel ban is lifted. Staying at home for almost a year can be trying, but through this experience, we weren't at each other's throats.

Where To Find Resources

Virtual vacations 2.0 can be done several days in a row or twice a week. We like to watch Rick Steves' Europe, and found several geography books and DVD's for kids at the Coronado Library (which is open during the stay at home order). 

Another benefit-virtual vacations cost nothing! Most of the items: documentaries, music, recipes, worksheets, books and crafts can be found online, or in the library. Many of the meals were cheap to make, filling, with plenty of leftovers.

Virtual vacations 2.0 is also a wonderful companion to homeschooling my ten year old son. He wasn't connecting to distance learning, so we switched to homeschooling. At home, he's studying Ancient Civilizations, Geography and World History. Food is another way to connect, and tap into history/culture.

My son has really enjoyed learning about new countries and tasting their cuisine. The synergy of cultures in Eastern Europe is a history not commonly taught in comparison to Western Europe. Overall these experiences were refreshing for the whole family.

We'll continue our trip around the world, and stay curious. Let me know if you decide to take a Culinary Vacation!

Stay Informed Join Central San Diego Macaroni Kid It's Free!