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eat2explore Review by Lisa McKinney

Rowena Scherer

I love to cook and try new recipes. I also love studying the cultures and foods of other countries. I am sure that I would be a traveling foodie if it were possible, but because that's not something I can do, I am intrigued by subscription programs where you can try authentic food recipes from other nations. Enter the company eat2explore, the award-winning experiential cooking kit subscription program designed to bring world cuisine and cultural experiences into your kitchen.

The company has designed box kits that include recipes, shopping lists, educational and fun activities, and all the hard-to-find spices and sauces that make each meal unique. In addition, each box contains three destination-based meal plans, educational activity sheets that are culturally connected to a particular country or region, and a fun cooking tool to use to make something in the box.

Customers can order the boxes in different ways. There is the option to order the curated box with a monthly ($34.95/box), 3-month ($33.25/box), 6-month ($31.25/box), or 12-month ($21.25/box) subscription. Families can choose a regular, vegetarian, or gluten-free box within that subscription. For those that choose the curated monthly choice, the company will send the country of the month selection; however, for those who prefer a more custom option, eat2explore offers a continent bundle that contains five featured countries from each continent for $150. Additionally, there is the option for a one-time purchase of any boxes. Each box description shows the recipes for the country, allowing for better preparation of what to expect.

While these boxes are designed to bring world cuisine and culture to any home, they are specially curated for children to use. The recommended age for the eat2explore box is five years old or older. Professional chefs have rated all the cooking steps in the recipes for difficulty and safety. There are even steps for the littlest three or four years old to mix or whisk and assist, while teenagers should be able to prepare the entire meal by themselves.

eat2explore sent three boxes to review: USA-South, Brazil, and France. I didn't know anything about the product, but I have always been interested in subscription boxes for anything food related. I was primarily curious about these for my twelve-year-old son, who enjoys cooking with me. When they arrived, he picked a box for us to open, deciding on the USA-South box first.

We discovered a Passport, a USA flag lapel pin, a country sticker, an explorer guide, educational activity sheets, recipe cards, unique seasonings for the recipes, a shopping list, and a little basting brush tool.

The explorer guide gives a crash course summary of the southern USA region with little facts, like unique animals, popular ingredients, popular dishes, and more. In addition, it includes photos and maps. The educational activity sheets contained puzzles, maps, trivia, and facts to learn more about the country.

Finally, the shopping list has everything that may need to be purchased to make the three recipes. The shopping lists divide the ingredients into categories like protein, vegetables, basic pantry, and even a section for "inside our kit," which mentions the items they provided. The smaller-sized paper shopping list makes it easy to take to the store. The recipes are 8 x 11" full-color recipe sheets. They include basic information about the dish, including facts about a particular ingredient used and background information about the dish itself. The recipe clearly notes the time to make, serving size, and ingredients. The recipe itself breaks down steps to make it easy to follow. It also notes the difficulty level of each step so that children of different ages can be involved.

The recipes included in the boxes I have all contain vegetarian alternatives for different meat products. For instance, the Blackened fish recipe for USA South offered a tofu alternative. This alternative greatly benefits vegetarian families or families with some vegetarian members. There are also options for gluten-free changes on any recipes where it's needed. While I don't need those for my own family, I know many families that would benefit from them. In addition, each box we received contained specialty seasonings or mixes to help make each recipe. Some of them were sauces, and others were seasoning mixes. The ingredients included in each seasoning or sauce are clearly labeled on the back for anyone with allergies.

My son dug into the USA-South recipes and decided he wanted to try the Blackened fish recipe first. We read the ingredients and noticed that it also included a recipe for succotash and rice on the same sheet, thus providing a way to provide an entire meal. After reading what was in succotash, he quickly decided he would not make it, not being a fan of its ingredients. But we decided we were still going to serve the fish with rice. So we just added some other ingredients to our meal. The recipe recommended sea bass, but we used cod instead because sea bass was hard to find. My son was very eager to do this recipe and invited his grandparents to come for dinner. He wouldn't even let me look at the recipe once he started. I was his sous chef for making the meal, which was fun for both of us. He followed the recipe exactly as written. We did make the rice in the Instant Pot to save time and opted to use the Tarra Herbie Mix, which was supposed to be for the succotash for the rice as a flavoring. It was a rousing success, and everyone loved it very much.

We were eager to try other recipes, so we dove into our France box next. Like the previous box, it had all similar versions of the things in the USA-South box with a French flag pin and a new sticker for the passport. There were three more recipes in this box, and my son chose the French roast chicken to make for dinner. We followed everything in the recipe, except we used my Instant Pot instead of the oven. I have lots of experience turning regular recipes into Instant Pot ones, so it wasn't difficult to adapt this one. He kept everything the same up to the bird's sautéing/browning, which we did in my Instant Pot. Then we simply added a little extra liquid for it to cook properly. It was phenomenal! One of the best-roasted chicken meals I've ever had!

The third box was Brazil, and we enjoyed using the little tool included to make meat pasties! That was something my son immensely enjoyed doing, even though it had a little bit of a learning curve. He wants to make those again!

After trying at least one thing from each box, I can say that these are great for exploring different flavors of the world! It was easy to decide what to make, and I had most of the ingredients except the fish. The provided specialty seasonings made it possible to try things I may not have tried otherwise. My son loved having the passport to put his stickers in, and he snagged the lapel pin flags for his dresser. He read the activity pages and would tell me different facts he found interesting.

As a homeschooling family, I can see how eat2explore would be a great supplement to any world geography curriculum to make it a complete experience. Likewise, purchasing an eat2explore subscription would also be an excellent gift for someone. We will use more of these eat2explore recipes and reuse the ones we've already done because they are easy to make and delicious! eat2explore boxes are a fun bonus activity product which is why I would highly recommend eat2explore as an experience gift purchase for a birthday or holiday for any age, even adults, but especially for children close to my own son's age--the pre-teen and teens!

-Product review by Lisa McKinney, The Old Schoolhouse® November 2022