When kids are first introduced to solid food in the form of strained peas, carrots and whatever else, they must not be paying too much attention to what the food actually looks like. A trip down the baby food aisle in a grocery store is like stepping inside a rainbow, and yet, when the kids get old enough to go out to eat at a family friendly restaurant, almost every menu item can be described by the same color chart that L.L. Bean uses to describe their pants: khaki, brown, tan, taupe. If it were not for marinara sauce, kids might think we live in a monochromatic world of food. Surprisingly, it is the one color that typically turns so many kids off that is now turning them on.
The easiest way to get a kid to go from nice to nuclear is to have his food show up with cilantro on it. Parents from Appleton, Wisconsin to Zephyrhills, Florida threaten their waiters with the penalty of diaper changes to not have any garnish on the plate. It is a foreign substance, and as anyone who was once a kid will tell you, they do not have to taste something to know they will not like it. So why do kids like guacamole so much?
Part of it is because it is fun. It is a food you play with. You scoop it up with chips, you spread it on your quesadillas, and you even lick it off your fingers when your parents are not watching. Fun is the environment that family friendly restaurants are looking for. Some Latin fusion restaurants, especially those that pride themselves on fresh ingredients, have even added guacamole bars and table side guacamole presentations so kids feel like they can be part of the action.
Those types of options also help to make it flavorful without being spicy. Too many sauces that you find in Latin fusion or other ethnic restaurants tend to be spicy, even if they are made in-house. They are also unfamiliar, and having them show up on the table in ramekins instead of bottles does not change that perception for kids. Seeing it happen right in front of them lets the kids know exactly what it is and lets the parents make sure it is not too spicy.
And let us not forget how healthy avocados are. They are one of the healthier foods most kids eat, but that does not mean you can hand them an avocado and expect them to eat it like an apple. A six year old kid is going to look at an avocado and think, "Miniature eggplant. No thank you." Sit that same kid down at a casual fine dining restaurant with a bowl of guacamole and stack of chips, and he is going to be asking for seconds while you enjoy a well-deserved margarita.
Jack Terry is a freelance writer who has been covering the food and beverage industry for over 20 years. http://www.osorioslatinfusion.com