Living abroad and food

Culinary conundrums

One of the very first things you need to do in your new country is to find food. You all have to eat! Food is spectacularly unique for each country in the world and although we may have lots of different nationality restaurants where we come from, actually living with someone else’s cuisine all the time can prove quite interesting.

There are many distinctions around food which are quite different from one country to the next, and at this time of year – when food is the focus of so many rituals – it seems to become more important.

Meal times

Eating abroad doesn’t mean eating at the same time. Meal times can vary wildly from country to country. For example in Spain they eat very late, often 10 or 11pm at night, whilst Australia and the UK the tendency is to eat much earlier, and America earlier again. It may seem like a small change on the surface but try telling that to a body clock which has been accustomed to something completely different.

If you are moving abroad with children then it’s a good idea to try get them accustomed to the differences before you leave so the transition isn’t quite so drastic.

Children and food

In some counties it’s deemed appropriate that children stay out very late and in other countries they ‘should be in bed early and not encroach on adult meal times’. Italy, Greece and Spain are famous for having children out very late, but in more northern European countries, children tend to go to bed earlier.

If you are moving abroad with your children, it’s best to explore some of the societal guidelines and etiquette around children and eating out at your destination so you don’t run into problems accidentally.

Young children thrive on routine, often to an intense degree – and this can be easily seen when it comes to food. If your child is a picky eater, you need to plan ahead to save the whole family from stress. Even if they’re not particularly fussy, don’t underestimate the comfort that familiar food brings them (and you, to be frank!). If you can, try to take some food with you when you first move which is familiar. Take food they are used to as part of their daily routine, cereals, for example, so when you arrive not everything is completely different and new. Whilst this may not be a long term solution, it does help settle them into their new life in the early, confusing stages. And encourage them to try local foods as soon as possible.