Open Up Wide and Taste!
This past week was French Tasting Week, or La Semaine du Goût, a week of discovering new foods and cultures. The discovery, education and development of taste. Development of le goût, translated as ‘the taste’ in English. Learning how to taste is an education deeply engrained in the French culture. Can you guess at what age the development of taste starts? If you guessed as a baby, it is actually younger than your guess. Even the newborn Henri IV, who became the French king during the 16th century, tasted at his baptism two unique things: a garlic clove rubbed on his lips and a dribble of Jurançon, a French wine from the SW region of France. Well, the story goes that these two strong tastes did finally help Henri IV to drink and digest the breastmilk to live on to become king. His younger brother died of malnutrition.
The French children are an important target for this week of degustation tastings. Open minds and mouths for trying, for opening the palate of the French youth to continue their path of exploring taste and its importance. Do you think it is true that by developing the taste buds of children, that we are helping them distinguish from eating healthier, fresher foods to enjoying less the commercialized industrialized foods? Developing the skills of a child’s palate, why couldn’t this be an education just as important as opening our children’s ears to appreciate music, their bodies to liking sport and their eyes to admiring a beautiful day? Si, it is true that at chez nous, our house, we try (and sometimes fail) to lead the kids to have greater appreciation for the taste of food. Not because we hope they will be a “gourmet” one day, but because too many real foods are being replaced by commercialized foods. Quel dommage! Why not practice some tasting exercises at your house too?
During this tasting week my kids enjoyed their own discovery of Le Goût at school. For the kindergarten class it was travel through the 5 senses, “touch, taste, sight, hearing and smell.” For the 2nd and 3rd grade class, it was a joint preparation cooking session of a typical menu from the region where we live, L’Aquitaine, followed by a group eating experience. These events are as important as a trip to the museum or a sport competition, n’est pas?
Here is the menu that the 2nd and 3rd grade class in Pau, France prepared this week:
Jambon de Bayonne (ham slices, similar to prosciutto, but thicker pieces)
Garbure Soup (Cabbage Soup with Duck Meat and White Beans)
Pyrenees Cheese (primarily sheep’s cheese, called Brebis)
Canneles de Bordeaux (rich cake like dessert originated in Bordeaux)
Rochers Noix de Coco (Coconut Macaroons)
Mmmmmmm! My daughter said everything was delicious, even the cabbage soup! (ok, she is the picky eater of the family, so in this sense it really was a success). The garbure is a soup from the Aquitaine region, usually served at the table in a big tureen. The tradition with garbure is that the last part of the soup in each bowl is mixed with red wine and finished off in style, called chabrot. Not in primary school, but ‘yum’ at your table, either at home or at the restaurant. Why not continue these traditions, such as the French tasting week chez vous (your house) too? Do you think these tasting discoveries are important? Do you feel children benefit from these experiences? How do you help your kids discover taste? Shout out your comments below, would love to hear from you. Until next time, Bon Appetit mes amis.