Let’s face it. Road trips with just my husband for company would look very different from family road trips. We would listen to different things while driving, we would eat different kinds of foods, and we would make different stops. We would definitely make a lot fewer bathroom stops.
I’m not complaining. I’m just acknowledging the reality of it.
Older, wiser women have told me that someday I will miss these messy, crazy years. I believe them. So when traveling, we usually capitalize on all the fun kid stuff out there. We spend most of our family vacation time humoring the children, watching them have fun, and mostly enjoying it.
We recently decided to drive to St. Louis, about four hours away from where we live in central Indiana, to visit the City Museum, the zoo, and some other educational and fun museums. St. Louis has a lot to offer for families and most of it is free, so it’s a great place to explore with kids.
We spent two nights there. On the first night, based on the recommendation of a friend whom we will never trust again, we tried a local pizza joint. The thin crust wasn’t the problem. We like thin crust. It was the Velveeta-type cheese that was the problem. Sorry to all you people who live in St. Louis and who think Provel cheese is the bomb. Apparently a lot of people disagree with me and like this pizza.
With our stomachs gurgling, we left the pizza joint and headed to our hotel to recover.
The next night, after a second full day on our feet, conquering all the kid-friendly museums, it was dinnertime again. After surviving highly-processed, pseudo-cheese the night before, we decided we needed to eat someplace with a more genuine flair.
My husband did what all intelligent people do when they are hungry in a strange city. He got on Yelp. His research unearthed an Afghan restaurant just minutes from our hotel.
We looked at each other, in doubt. Could our kids, ranging in age from 5 to 13, handle an Afghan restaurant, with no French fries on the menu?
We like ethnic restaurants for date nights, and I try to cook ethnic food at home also, but we had never tried Afghan food. I figured there would be naan bread and rice. On those two things, my children could definitely survive.
So we headed to Sameem Afghan Restaurant, for an experience polar-opposite of the previous evening.
On the way, we told our children that we knew this type of restaurant was not their first choice. We told them: “We did all these crazy museums and tried gross pizza for you. Now it’s your turn to eat at this restaurant, for our sake.”
In a family, you learn you have to compromise at times. And, when you travel in a group, life is not all about you, but about giving and taking and the common good.
Seated at the restaurant, we noticed that we were the only non-Middle Eastern-looking people in sight. In fact, I was the only woman in the whole place without a headscarf. So we knew this was probably as authentically Afghan is it gets anywhere in the middle of the U.S.A.
The server was extremely nice and accommodating. We told her that we needed some very plain food for our younger children but we wanted to have very flavorful food for the adults. She basically ordered for us. She brought plain yogurt to dip the appetizer in, along with the traditional cilantro sauce. She was awesome!
It was delicious—everything from the appetizers, to the lamb and curries, to the baklava.
Our kids survived. In fact, they liked some of the new things they tried.
We will always remember our trip to St. Louis and our family dinner compromise. Let’s just call it a really wonderful Missouri compromise.
Photo Credit: iStock. Following images courtesy of author.