This time we brought back an inedible, yet tasty, souvenir. It's a children's board game called Crazy Chefs, made in England by Orchard Toys. My 3-year-old daughter, Iris, loves it and easily mastered the gameplay, which goes like this:
Players choose a card with a cartoon of a chef imagining a finished dish: cupcakes, kebabs, pizza, stir-fried noodles, or, on a more English note, shepherd's pie. (Iris says this one is actually meatloaf.) Each card has pictures of the ingredients and implements you'll need to make the dish. Players take turns flipping over tiles and looking for what they need. When you've filled your card, you spin a spinner trying to get a plate and then a kid ready to eat your food.
Iris wants to be the cupcake chef every time. I like the stir-fried noodle chef, although the sliced scallions look more than a little like eyeballs. Every time I pull the soy sauce tile, Iris, who has been known to steal tofu from my pad Thai, says, "No, that's fish sauce." The best part of Crazy Chefs is when Iris pulls a tile she doesn't need for her card and notices that Mom or Dad needs it. "Hmm...I don't need red onions," she'll say slyly, replacing the tile.
OK, I admit I'm getting bored with Crazy Chefs, but Iris isn't, and that's the point. Keeping myself entertained is no longer my highest priority.
Other Orchard Toys games include Shopping List (this one looks great), Pop to the Shops, Greedy Gorilla, and, uh, Potty Professors. The last one is not at all what it sounds like, since "potty" is UK English for "crazy." If you're in the UK, the Orchard website lists retailers from Clwyd to Strathclyde. We got our game at Vancouver Kidsbooks, and they ship internationally. Give them a call at 604-738-5335 and they'll be happy to sell you Crazy Chefs, Shopping List, or whatever other Orchard games they have in stock.