If you live to eat and are raising kids who feel the same way, a food-tasting walking tour is a terrific way to learn a New York City neighborhood.
Problem is, a lot of companies gently discourage parents from bringing kids younger than seven on such tours. Aside from the potential inappropriateness of the foods on offer – say coffee, booze, or stinky cheese – the tour guide will inevitably be pontificating about food culture or neighborhood history or some such thing demanding a measure of attention that some young kids are ill-equipped to give.
One New York-based foodie tour company comes out and says that “we have found that those under the age of 17 might be indifferent, fidgety, and may not fully appreciate our tours,” and at first the statement irritated me because it would appear to discourage not just young kids, but pretty much all kids.
But once I began browsing through the more than nine thousand reviews of one of this company’s tours – reviews in which parents reported that their kids – many well under 17 – had had a blast – it dawned on me that despite the tour company’s cautionary statement, there are plenty of parents out there who know their own kids well enough to determine if the tour would be appropriate. And I realized I was one of them.
In my case, I’ve got a 3-year-old who would redefine indifferent and fidgety on this tour, despite his love of good food. But I’ve also got a tween who loves food factoids maybe even more than food itself, as well as an 8-year-old who will shove her way to the front of a crowded Williams Sonoma food demo and not leave until the store closes.
Which brings me, at last, to the aforementioned tour company, Foods of New York, as well as to the conclusion that if you think your kids can handle it, consider the company’s three-hour Greenwich Village Food Tasting and Cultural Tour (www.foodsofny.com/greenwichvillage.php, $47) that includes tastings at Joe's Pizza, Faicco's Italian Specialties, Amy's Bread, Milk and Cookies Bakery, Centro Vinoteca, Rocco's Pastry Shop, and Murray's Cheese Shop. And for the parents out there who are turophiles – aka cheese o’philes – don’t get hung up on the fact that a cheese shop might be wasted on your kids, because even a few minutes spent as a VIP at Murray’s is money well spent. But overall the tour food is relatively family friendly and unlike some food-tasting tours, this one will be fortifying enough to make lunch afterward unnecessary.
Another selling point of this walk is that it takes visitors through the Village and helps them actually understand what they’re looking at as they walk, an education that too many NYC tourists, sadly, deny themselves when they come to town.
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