FOOD: 11 Before 11

School dinners, fussy eaters, five-a-day, what’s for tea? As far as parental brain space goes, food is right up there taking up more than its fair share. Food shopping, meal planning, sandwich filling, cereal pouring, eat your greens exasperation… It feels like a never-ending round of preparation and persuasion at times. But what about the more joyful side? Food is as much about discovery, fun and connecting ourselves to other cultures as it is about fuel and nutrition. What about the thrill of discovering a delicious new flavour? A giant sundae in a seaside ice-cream parlour? Holiday treats? Exotic restaurants? Cosy family dinners? The more children are exposed to and try new flavours the more likely they are to accept and enjoy them, so in the spirit of getting stuck in we’ve come up with a list of 11 must try treats to tick off before they start secondary school. How many have your children tried?

As always we’d love to know what you think. Have we missed off something you think all under-11s should try? Have we included something completely unrealistic? Are your children partial to sushi, smoothies or snails? Join us over on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and let us know.

And check out the rest of our 11 Before 11 series covering POP MUSIC, BOOKS, ART & FILM here:

A DIY cake
On your marks, get set, bake… Let them loose in the kitchen Great British Bake Off style to create and decorate their own cake. No parents required until the oven/tasting part.

Green smoothies
The colour might set off alarm bells with veg adverse children but stick enough sweet fruit (mangoes, pineapples, bananas) in with the green stuff and they won’t complain about the taste. The ulimate parental smugness win.

It might seem leftfield to some but sushi, especially the small maki rolls, is often a winner with tiny tastebuds. It’s a good idea to start with a conveyor belt restaurant so they can see what their options are and pick things they fancy as they go round. And once they’re hooked and mainlining sashimi? Just brace yourself for the bill.

A proper ice-cream sundae
Knickerbocker glories, banana splits, squirty cream and hot chocolate sauce… Next time you’re in the vicinity of a retro ice cream parlour or American diner that gives good dessert, let them get stuck in.

A swanky afternoon tea
There’s nothing quite like a proper afternoon tea somewhere formal and fabulous. Get dressed up and take them out for finger sandwiches, scones, pastries and best behaviour. Glass of champagne for mama.

French cheese
Freshly baked baguette, oozy camembert, picnicking en famille in dappled French sunshine. Get them hooked on brie asap and never be the family loading their trolley with Le Vache Qui Rit at Carrefour again.

PYO strawberries
There’s nothing quite like the taste of a strawberry plucked straight from the plant. Find your nearest pick your own farm (check out this helpful website) and get involved this summer.

Chicken tikka masala is our national dish, after all. If they haven’t already, most children will come round to a simple dahl or chicken korma with a bit of persistence on the trying front. Great for upping the ante at weekend family dinners. Plus, poppadoms are basically crisps.

Churros & chocolate
The highlight of many a Spanish holiday, these deep-fried sugar-coated pastries dipped in thick chocolate are decadence itself. And best appreciated by sweet-toothed small folk.

Something grown from seed
Plant seeds, watch them grow, devour the results. It can be as simple as a yogurt pot of cress or as complicated as a greenhouse full of salad. Check out our feature on growing your own here.

Cornish pasty
Traditional recipe shortcrust pastry filled with meat and veg (or just veg if you prefer). Best consumed with sun-scorched salty skin after a long day on the beach. Watch out for the seagulls.