Thursday

Homeschool Cultural Activity - Try the World Japan International Food Subscription Review

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Try the World 

Try the World is a bimonthly (every other month) international food subscription service that allows subscribers to experience the world through their taste buds without pulling out their passports. Bimonthly boxes of 6-7 items are curated by chefs around the world, giving subscribers a versatile variety of food items to taste and cook with. 

We were given the opportunity to review Try the World's previous box, which came from Argentina, and we have their latest box from Japan for you today!


The cost of the subscription varies based on the length of your subscription terms and subscription can be canceled at any time and is broken down as follows:

Month to Month - $39 every 2 months

Semi-Annual - $105 every 6 months (breaks down to $35 per box)

Annual - $198 every 12 months (breaks down to $33 per box)

You can subscribe through their website - TrytheWorld.com


Try the World July/August Box - Japan Review

For those of you that have followed our family over the years you probably already know that I'm (Mom) a hapa (half-Japanese) and our kids are 1/4 Japanese. They are being raised to be familiar with their Japanese roots in addition to their Caucasian heritage. As a result, everything in this box was very familiar to our family, but still very exciting to incorporate into the cultural aspect of their homeschooling. Because our kids have different cognitive and learning challenges we do a modified home school schedule that is year-round with shorter breaks between stretches rather than one large stretch for summer. This helps them to maintain the skills they've learned throughout the year and maintain grade-appropriate levels in their subjects. If you're on a more traditional schedule and taking a break, doing some cultural activities this summer could be a great way to keep those little ones occupied (and learning in a fun way) during some of those long summer days!

While the products in this month's box weren't new to our family, it was very fun for our family to see familiar items. And as many of you can relate, getting anything in the mail in general is basically cause for a holiday to children!

It was interesting for our family to see what the curators picked to present to those who may be less familiar with Japanese culture and popular/common foods, treats and dishes. We were very excited to see some of our family's personal favorites in this box! 

If you read our last review on the Try the World Argentina box you probably noted the volume of food sent--enough that our entire family was able to experience the cultural flavors presented. We were extremely happy to see that this box had a comparable volume of food and quality in variety. It's so refreshing to see consistency from subscription services from box to box!


Inside the Box - Try the World July/August Japan Box


If you have picky eaters unfamiliar with Japanese flavors, we suggest starting with the candy items and seeing if you can coax them into some of the more savory products after. Odds are they'll likely love the candies (they're quite delicious in our opinions), which will establish a positive experience with Japanese foods and possibly pave the way for additional experiences. None of the items in this box have flavors that are super spicy or potent in our opinions, so hopefully you can encourage your littles to enjoy their Japanese cultural food experience!

As with all of their boxes, Try the World includes a postcard filled with facts about each food. These are great to share with eager little ones so that they better understand how these foods are eaten by those native to Japan.


Each box includes a cultural guide, which tells you a bit about country for which foods were curated, the culture in that country, recipes, etc. Our oldest loves this part about each box. He has been taking and keeping these guides for himself--he's a fact-loving fiend. This box in particular was fun for him because he knows my family is from Japan and one of my sisters lives in Tokyo.

This recipe for shortbread cookies was very simple and could easily be prepared as part of your cultural experience with your homeschoolers. It does include some of the Blueberry Matcha, which is caffeinated, so you'd have to determine whether or not the amount included would affect your little guys.

These are all of the foods included in this month's box. As you can see, there's a great variety of snacks, ready-to-eat foods and foods that require some preparation. Thankfully, all of the foods that require preparation are ones that could likely be done with even younger homeschoolers (with assistance of course). Our guys are 7 and 9 and were able to help with all of the cooking!
Product: Aoi Tea Blueberry Matcha Tea
Our ThoughtsThis was a Matcha Blueberry tea mix, Everyone, including the little guys, thought it was absolutely delicious--especially cold. It blended nicely, had a nice strong, fresh blueberry taste and was sweetened well. It does contain caffeine so keep that in mind if you have little ones tasting it. Our little guys don't typically drink caffeine of any kind, but now and again a little caffeinated tea doesn't bother them.
For those unfamiliar with the difference between Matcha tea and regular green tea, Matcha tea leaves are shade-grown and processed differently than regular green tea (stems and veins are removed), Matcha is used in traditional tea ceremonies and incorporated in many confectioneries and foods. I am a huge fan, personally!

Product: Ishiguro Yamaimo Soba Noodles
Our ThoughtsJapan, like many Asian countries, has many varieties of noodles used in different dishes. These are buckwheat soba noodles, most often used in soups and sometimes in stir fry. Unlike Udon (super thick, delicious, wheat noodles), soba are very thin and have a buckwheat flavor--buckwheat is used in other Japanese foods as well.

Product: Morinaga Milk Caramels
Our ThoughtsThese Morinaga Milk Caramels are not only delicious, but iconic! Unlike caramels in the U.S., these Japanese caramels have more of a milk flavor to them (if you like Japanese milk candies you'll likely like these as well!).
They're highly recognizable and have been featured in different Japanese films. Can you think of one?
Totoro would be the first one that comes to mind for us! Miyazaki actually features a number of popular Japanese candies in his films, this being one of them.

Product: Otafuku Foods Okonomiyaki Kit
Our ThoughtsThis Okonomiyaki Kit is fantastic because it includes most of the ingredients needed to make okonomiyaki, which is basically a savory pancake that often incorporates cabbage and scallions in the flour-based batter. You can put a number of different toppings on it. I have most often eaten it with a special sauced often used on them along with Japanese mayo. Bonito flakes, which is very finely shaved fish flakes, are sometimes used as a garnish and were included in this kit. These are absolutely delicious and are meant to be customized to your liking (that's actually part of what makes them what they are).

Product: Takaokaya Seaweed Snack
Our Thoughts: We've noticed seaweed snacks have been introduced a bit in the U.S. In Japan, they are a common snack and something I personally grew up on (the boys are being raised the same way). These are great little snack packs that can be taken on the go--perfect for busy families that spend a lot of time out and about. It's very healthy, delicate and melt-in-your mouth delicious. Seaweed in Japan is generically referred to as "nori" (which is actually pronounced more like no-dee since the r's are more similar to an American "d"). This pack in particular was well-seasoned, they come in a super wide variety of flavors in Japan as snacks.

Product: Kasagai Gummy Candies
Our Thoughts: Lychee is a very common fruit flavor in Japan and gummies are plentiful in a variety of flavors. The best way we can describe Lychee is if a pineapple and kiwi had a baby, it would be a lychee fruit. These gummies were absolutely delicious to everyone (we'd had them before by a different company)--and gluten-free to boot! The package was resealable so that if you're able to restrain your little ones from eating all of them at once, you can keep them fresh for later! Our little guys gobbled these up quite fast, they love Japanese gummies.

Product: Wadakan Umami Ponzu Sauce
Our ThoughtsUmami Ponzu Sauce is a dipping sauce that can be used over grilled meat or fish or to dip sashimi in. We actually like it on just about everything for dipping mixed with a bit of  sweet cooking rice seasoning--great if you like a bit of sweetness with your salty-tang. We'll even use this type of sauce to dip gyoza (dumplings) sometimes!


Homeschool Cultural Activity Suggestions

If you'd like to incorporate this box into some expanded cultural experiences with your homeschoolers here are some of our suggestions:
  • There is info on tea ceremonies in the cultural guide. If you wanted you could perform one of your own based on the info provided with your homeschoolers! Formal tea ceremonies are very special events and the techniques used are precise and carefully studied by those who perform them.
  • Rent or purchase the movie "Totoro" by Hayao Miyazaki and have your little ones watch (while munching on their goodies) for the scene in which one of the candies included in this box are featured (hint: it's very early on in the film). After, discuss different cultural things they noticed in the film compared to how things are done in the U.S. For example, shoes are not worn in homes in Japan (or in our household).
    *Keep in mind Totoro does show family bathing (which was cultural) and the mother is in a special hospital in the mountains for people who are sick. She does get well in the end.
  • Make the Okonomiyaki and compare how each of you likes yours prepared best! Discuss how this is similar to the fact that different cultures may like different foods, but it simply makes us the unique people we are in this world.
  • Do an origami activity with your little ones! Origami is the Japanese art of folding paper and designs can range from very basic to super complicated. Our little guys enjoy it a lot! If you don't have origami paper and don't have access to a store that sells it (we've even seen it at Barnes and Nobles) you can cut regular paper into large squares. This is a great site that has some easy instructions for kids. This site has a variety of difficulties, with some that seem a bit less traditional, but still fun. There are also quite a few tutorials on youtube if you get really stuck!


Our Final Thoughts

So far our entire family has been a big fan of Try the World based on our cultural experiences thus far. The boxes have included a great variety of foods with enough that everyone in our family has been able to enjoy them. We like that cultural info is included with the foods so that those experiencing each box can better understand some aspects of the cultures of the countries for which foods are curated. 

Up to this point, the foods that required prep in both of our boxes have been ones that we could include our little guys in preparing, which has made our experiences pretty comprehensive. We like that we're able to include these boxes in our homeschool program and think they're a very unique way of exposing little ones to other cultures and countries in unique, hands-on ways. This is particularly engaging for little ADHDers who prefer multi-sensory approaches to learning in our opinions!

If you have little ones and you'd like to begin exposing them to the concept of other culture or you have little guys with curious palettes, we feel Try the World's cultural food subscription service is well worth the investment!

You can subscribe through their website - TrytheWorld.com

Note: Products in this post were provided by PR/the brand. All opinions are our own.

3 comments:

  1. Wow - this is so cool. I love trying new international foods and products. Thanks so much for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  2. So cool! i want to try one!

    ReplyDelete
  3. This seems like such a cool idea!

    ReplyDelete

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