I recently finished homeschooling my second grade daughter this year, and one of the focuses in her social studies/geography curriculum was to identify the seven continents. We spent ample time learning new vocabulary words for each one’s differing topography, climate, monuments, and habitats. Thanks to an idea put forth by Catholic Heritage Curricula’s Explore the Continents book, I decided to celebrate the culmination of our studies with an international cuisine night. To make it even more entertaining (challenging?), in order to be served, you had to correctly identify the continent flashcards I had prepared beforehand. 😜
I searched online a bit for some inspiration and came across a couple very helpful sites. First, is the International Center for Tropical Agriculture‘s website which has a fantastic interactive map which help us explore the geographic origins of our food crops. I downloaded the static version of the map for the kiddos – it is a great visual for them to see how each continent specializes in different foods, and how even within each continent those specializations vary by region. (For example, the United States rocks at growing berries!)
But I also discovered a blog where a mom had done most of the work for me, creating a “Seven Continents Dinner” of her own. She listed her courses with the links for the recipes she used, so I’ve included the ones I ended up using here separately for you as well. I encourage you to explore the continents, expand your palate, and tantalize your taste buds with a Continental Dinner of your own (and let me know about it!)… Bon Appetit!
Around the World in Seven Courses
Our first course is courtesy of our resident continent, North America. As mentioned above, berries abound in North America, so it was a no-brainer to just supply a fruit salad of assorted berries to start off our dinner. Easy peasy.
I may as well mention that our beverages were chilled courtesy of some Arctic ice. Another no-brainer. 😊 (And unless you feel like serving penguin (like my snarky teenager suggested), there are also no options).
Lettuces, figs, and hazelnuts all grow well in Europe (as we noted in our map) and we learned in our studies that many families raise goats, so this was a naturally beautiful and tasty collection of fresh ingredients. (The recipe calls for sherry vinegar but I used red wine vinegar, and I omitted the fresh mint.)
Our next course hails from Peru. This is an example of culinary fusion cuisine – the Chinese brought their traditional fried rice, or chaufa, when they first arrived to South America as laborers in the 19th century. Since Peru is located on the coast, they often added seafood to it, making it their own.
Alecha is an easy-to-make Ethiopian comfort food dish. The carrots and cabbage are popular crops in northern Africa. Turmeric, which is known to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, is what gives this dish its vibrant yellow color and flavor.
Our next course came from Asia where curry is king. Since half of our family can’t really handle spicy food, I chose to swap the green curry out for a more milder yellow curry in this recipe. The shredded chicken, bell peppers, sugar snap peas, basil, and coconut milk all tie together nicely in this easy one-pot wonder.
A meal isn’t complete without dessert, and in this case, that means cookies from Australia. Did you know that 70% of the world’s macadamia nuts came from one tree in Queensland? It’s basically the Genghis Khan of macadamia nut trees. 😜 (Now, Hawai’i produces 70% of the world’s macadamia varieties, but they are all cloned from that one tree.) These cookies were a BIG hit; I took the leftovers to a Book Club, and they were snatched up fast.
If you’re interested in some great picture books to read to your kiddos that are themed around the diversity of our seven continents, here are a few of our recommendations:
Pele, King of Soccer, The Umbrella, and My Name is Gabriela
Madeline, Angelo, and The Clown of God
The Story About Ping, Daisy Comes Home, and We’re Riding on a Caravan: A Silk Road Adventure
Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain, We’re Sailing Down the Nile: A Journey through Egypt, and The 3 Little Dassies
Koala Lou, Katy No-Pocket, and Snap! (buy used or rent from the library!😳)
The Emperor’s Egg, Here is Antarctica, and Survival Tails: Endurance in Antarctica (chapter book)
“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is mankind that You are mindful of them, human beings that You care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels, and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of Your hands; You put everything under their feet.” – Psalm 8:3-6 (NIV)