Who is your favorite Gewuerzmaedchen

Your daily bread: What children around the world eat

What do the children get on their plates and what does that say about the food culture in their country? Professor Marin Trenk conducts research at the University of Frankfurt, specializing in culinary ethnology, and comments on what is on the children's menu. The pictures each show the meal for a week.

Andrea from Catania, Italy

Professor Marin Trenk: Pizza with French fries? It remains the boy's only culinary outlier. Italian cuisine is firmly rooted in itself, classic “children's food” is hardly known there, Andrea gets the same thing as adults on the plate. You can see that not only in the sea bream, which is even served with its head, but also in the pasta with lentils or bacon: it has nothing in common with the noodles in ready-made sauce offered to German children.

Siti from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Professor Marin Trenk: When humans started farming around 12,000 years ago, a plant had established itself as the basis of food culture in every country. Ethnologists call it “superfood”, and it is often a carbohydrate: in Europe it is wheat, in Africa the yam root, in South America the potato. In Southeast Asia, as in Malaysia, rice takes on the role of superfood, and Siti eats it every day. For example, for breakfast in the form of the traditional “Nasi Lemak”: rice in coconut milk with sambal, a spice paste (here on paper). At home she combines it with chicken or catfish, an inexpensive fish that is easy to breed. The consistency with which the parents put rice in front of the girl every day distinguishes them from Europeans, who no longer cling to their superfood as the main component of every meal.

Frank from Dakar, Senegal

Professor Marin Trenk: The chip bags represent a worldwide phenomenon: Although Senegal, like Malaysia, Italy or India, is clinging to the roots of its food culture, the phenomenon of the “globalized snack culture” has also arrived here: The boy does not only eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, but at least one snack every day. These snacks often have nothing to do with the original food of the country. Pizza, ice cream and ready-made cakes are also on the boy's menu. Many of these products come from Western manufacturers.

June, John and Greta from Hamburg, Germany

Professor Marin Trenk: If you look for typical national dishes on the plates of German children, you will find nothing. Germany only became a nation late - with the establishment of the German Empire in 1871. As a result, our cuisine, in contrast to that in neighboring France, has been exclusively regional for centuries. Later, the famine years prevented the development of an all-German kitchen due to two world wars. Today the northern Germans do not cultivate their regional food culture to the same extent as their compatriots in the south. The Hamburg children have Bavarian and Swabian dishes on their plates: pretzels and cheese spaetzle. You can also see an idea that few countries besides Germany (such as Great Britain) have: small people, simple food. While children in India or Italy usually eat like the grown-ups, in Germany they get simplified forms of “adult food” on the table: pasta with tomato sauce, French fries, sausages, salami rolls. And the fish fingers, the most popular “sea creature”. The only outlier is the squid on June's menu.

Adveeta from Mumbai, India

Professor Marin Trenk: The Brahmins, members of the highest caste in India, have always shared the ideal of non-violence: They completely forego meat. Adveeta's family lives after their example. In addition, she feeds almost exclusively on typical Indian food: unleavened flatbread (roti), lentils, rice, chutney and curry. An exception is the jam for breakfast - a relic of British colonization. Quirky: Like many Indians, Adveeta has an inexplicable passion for tomato soup.

Hank from Alta Dena, USA

Professor Marin Trenk: Hank only eats heavy meals in the evening: spaghetti in tomato sauce, pork shoulder with barbecue sauce on kale or steak. At lunchtime, celery, broccoli, hummus and a glass of kombucha are supposed to keep this Californian boy eating healthy. In the process, his parents sometimes come up with curious ideas: the boy drinks the liquid from the pepperoni glass as a snack in between.

Soulaymane from Nice and Rosalie from Èze, France

Professor Marin Trenk: Like hardly any other city in France, Nice has developed its own food culture, which is also shaped by its neighbor Italy. In order to preserve the traditional recipes, the label “Cuisine Nissarde” was introduced. Several times a week Rosalie and Landim eat fresh fish such as anchovies that are caught on the coast. The girl also nibbles on “cailletiers”, known as Nice olives, which are grown all the way to the Italian border. Despite a lot of French cuisine, the children's classics are also on the children's menu: sausages with mashed potatoes and pizza.

Majo from Wedel, Germany. Formerly from Syria

Professor Marin Trenk: Majo came to Germany from Syria a good two years ago. To this day, he largely eats as he is used to at home: the menu includes kebabs, stuffed grape leaves, rice with kofte (meatballs), soup with aubergines and peppers. Will he also start consuming German specialties in the next few years? Hardly likely. Rather, the North German elements will take over from the kitchen of the Syrian refugees. One possible explanation: For example, if you hardly feel an inner connection with your own kitchen, it is difficult to get others excited about it. It might be different if the boy had come to southern Germany, to Bavaria: There they even managed to market regional cuisine internationally as “German Cuisine”.

Sira from Tambacounda, Senegal

Professor Marin Trenk: What the lentils are in India, the peanuts are in Senegal. It is added to most dishes, mostly in ground form. It is also the main ingredient in the sauces in which the meat of the girl Sira swims. The idea behind it follows a simple consideration: Often families with little money have to get enough of a lot of children, and the legume helps with this. For them, large areas of cultivation are used in the country.